India confirmed its first monkeypox death

India confirmed its first monkeypox death on Monday, possibly also marking the first death from the disease in Asia.

The health ministry in the southern Indian state of Kerala said that a 22-year-old man died on July 30 after tests that “showed that the man had monkeypox.”

However, it is not yet confirmed whether monkeypox was the cause of the death.

Spain reported two monkeypox-related deaths last week with another recorded in Brazil. The World Health Organization declared it a global health emergency on July 23.

“The person reached Kerala on July 21 but visited a hospital only on July 26 when he displayed fatigue and fever,” Kerala’s Revenue Minister K Rajan said.

He added that the government had put 21 contacts into isolation, but said none of them were showing any symptoms.

The man had recently returned from the United Arab Emirates, where he had tested positive, according to Kerala’s Health Minister Veena George.

“The youth had no symptoms of monkeypox. He had been admitted to a hospital with symptoms of encephalitis and fatigue,” George said.

India has so far officially recorded at least four monkeypox cases. The first was from July 15 and also involved a man who returned from the UAE to Kerala.

The WHO has reported over 18,000 cases in 78 countries outside of Africa as part of the recent global outbreak since the beginning of May.

According to the UN’s health body, the virus has usually been transmitted from animals to humans and the symptoms of the disease are generally less severe than with smallpox.

Symptoms of the infection include fever, muscle pain and a rash that forms blisters. Vaccines are available to help protect against its spread, but supply is limited.

ab/aw (Reuters, AFP)