The Centre on Friday issued an alert to the National Centre for Disease Control and the Indian Council of Medical Research to keep a close watch on the growing cases of monkeypox, a disease that has been spreading rapidly in Europe and some parts of America, ANI reported.

The alert was issued on a day when the World Health Organisation convened a meeting of experts to discuss the management the Monkeypox after over 100 cases were confirmed or suspected in Europe, Reuters reported.

Monkeypox is a rare infection that is mainly spread by wild animals in parts of west or central Africa, according to the UK’s National Health Service. The health body says that it is uncommon for the infection to spread through human contact but can happen if a person touches monkeypox skin blisters or use clothing, bedding or towels of those suffering from the rash.

The disease usually causes a mild illness and can result in symptoms such as high temperature, headache, backache and rashes that can be confused with chickenpox.

The Centre, on Friday, ordered that samples of travellers showing any symptoms must be sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune for investigation and testing, ANI reported. The Centre ordered surveillance on all international entry points including borders, airports and seaports.

Even though the spread of the infection is uncommon, confirmed cases have been reported in at least twelve countries – Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Some cases of the disease has also been detected in the United States, Canada and Australia, Reuters reported.

“This is the largest and most widespread outbreak of monkeypox ever seen in Europe,” said Germany’s armed forces’ medical service, according to Reuters. Germany and France each detected their first case on Friday. Meanwhile, Spain reported 24 new cases on Friday.

The first monkeypox case in the UK was reported on May 7. The patient had returned from Nigeria.