India confirms first Asian monkeypox death

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India has confirmed its first monkeypox death, a young man in the southern state of Kerala, in what is the fourth known fatality from the disease in the current outbreak.

Last week, Spain reported two monkeypox-related deaths and Brazil its first. The death in India is also the first in Asia.

The World Health Organisation declared the outbreak a global health emergency on July 23.

The 22-year-old Indian man died on Saturday, Kerala's revenue minister told reporters, adding the government had isolated 21 people who had come in contact with him.

"The person reached Kerala on July 21 but visited a hospital only on July 26 when he displayed fatigue and fever," Minister K Rajan said, adding that none of the man's primary contacts were showing symptoms.

Kerala's health minister, Veena George, told reporters on Sunday the man's family told authorities the previous day that he had tested positive in the United Arab Emirates before returning to India.

India's federal health ministry said the government had formed a task force of senior officials to monitor monkeypox cases in the country, where local media have reported at least five infections.

As of July 28, Australia had recorded 45 confirmed and probable cases of monkeypox, with the vast majority in NSW (25) and Victoria (16).

The WHO said late last month 78 countries had reported more than 18,000 cases of monkeypox, the majority in Europe.

It said the monkeypox virus causes a disease with less severe symptoms than smallpox and occurs mainly in central and west Africa. The virus is transmitted from animals to humans.

Human-to-human transmission happens through contact with bodily fluids, lesions on the skin or on internal mucosal surfaces, such as in the mouth or throat, respiratory droplets and contaminated objects such as clothing.

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