Monkeypox is nothing to be concerned about in Kerala as testing has been intensified and the primary contacts of the three infected persons have tested negative, Health Minister Veena George said on Monday, reported PTI.

The three positive patients are stable, the minister added.

India has so far reported four cases of the monkeypox disease – one in Delhi and the rest three in Kerala.

Monkeypox is a rare infection that is spread by wild animals like rodents and primates in parts of West or Central Africa, according to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service.

The zoonotic virus causes a mild illness and can result in symptoms such as high temperature, headache, backache and a chickenpox-like rash. The infection can spread if a person touches monkeypox skin blisters or uses clothing, bed sheets or towels of those suffering from the disease.

On Monday, George said that the World Health Organisation declared the monkeypox outbreak as a global emergency as it has spread to around 68 countries across the world. The global emergency classification is the highest level of alert that the health body can issue and is expected to force governments into action.

The minister said that the disease was not highly infectious. However, she warned residents, especially those who have a foreign travel history, to be cautious.

George said that the health professionals have been given the training to identify and deal with monkeypox cases. Directions have been issued to health authorities across the state to be vigilant, she added.

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Suspected case in Hyderabad

A 40-year-old man from Telangana’s Kamareddy district was admitted to the isolation ward of a Hyderabad hospital on Sunday after he showed monkeypox-like symptoms, reported The Indian Express.

In a statement, Telangana’s Director of Public Health Dr G Srinivasa Rao said that the man returned from Kuwait on July 20. The traveller was suffering from high fever and after three days, rashes appeared on his body. The next day, the man went to a private hospital, where the doctors diagnosed the symptoms as that of monkeypox.

Rao said that the man’s sample has been sent to National Institute of Virology in Pune. He will be kept in observation till the results are received, he said.

“We have identified six people who had direct contact with this person,” Rao added. “None of them have any symptoms yet. However, we have isolated them as well.”

He advised the residents not to panic as the disease was not life-threatening.

EU approves vaccine

The European Commission has approved a smallpox vaccine imvanex for use against monkeypox, said Bavarian Nordic on Monday. Bavarian Nordic has developed the jab.

The Danish drugmaker said that the vaccine has been authorised to be used in all European Union member states as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Imvanex, was approved by the bloc for use against smallpox in 2013. It can be used against monkeypox virus as it has similarity with smallpox, according to AFP. Smallpox was eradicated in 1980.

The vaccine has already been approved in the United States and Canada for preventing monkeypox disease, the statement said.

“The availability of an approved vaccine can significantly improve nations’ readiness to fight emerging diseases, but only through investments and structured planning of the biological preparedness,” said Bavarian Nordic President Paul Chaplin.