The world has hardly recovered from the covid pandemic, but another contagion alert has been sounded. More than 100 confirmed and suspected cases of monkeypox—a viral disease first found among simians—have been reported in as many as 20 countries. Though it is far harder to contract than covid and mostly has mild symptoms, it can be fatal, and its spread has got experts worried enough to push for precautionary steps. The Indian health ministry is reported to be preparing guidelines for monkeypox prevention and treatment, just in case of a domestic outbreak.
As its name suggests, this scarcely known illness presents chickenpox-like symptoms that include rashes, swollen lymph nodes, fever and muscle aches. It has been around for decades without attracting much notice. However, it is contagious, even if only mildly, and that is reason enough to maintain a vigil. Among the lessons that the deadliest pandemic in a century has taught us is that early detection of a health threat can make a difference. This means that we may waste time, energy and other resources on scares that turn out to be empty. But after the past two years’ nightmare, we mustn’t grumble about it.