KARACHI: Top health authorities in Pakistan on Tuesday said no suspected case of the Monkeypox viral disease had so far been diagnosed anywhere in Pakistan after two children were found with skin rashes and blisters at the National Institute of Child Health (NICH), Karachi, who were shifted to an isolated ward following scare among parents of children admitted to the health facility.
It also emerged that most of Pakistani laboratories, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Islamabad, Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) Karachi, and Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS), Karachi, lacked the ability to detect the Monkeypox virus.
“The National Institutes of Health (NIH), Islamabad, clarifies that no case of Monkeypox has yet been diagnosed in Pakistan. The news circulating on social media about Monkeypox cases is incorrect. The situation is being closely monitored by the health authorities,” the NIH said in a statement on Tuesday.
Officials at the NICH said two children, including a five-year old kid from Larkana, was brought to the health facility with rashes on his body, and due to the spread of scare among the parents of children admitted to the health facility, the boy was shifted to an isolated ward.
“The child from Larkana is most probably a case of infectious dematosis and bacterial sepsis, but due to scare and unverified social media posts, we have shifted the child to the isolated ward. Similarly, an infant is also suffering from similar rashes, who has also been shifted to the isolation facility,” Dr Liaquat Ali, a deputy director at the NICH and spokesman for the health facility, told The News.
Center for Disease Control (CDC) officials at the NIH Islamabad said a child with a similar condition had been detected in Lahore a few days back, but when his history was checked, it emerged that it had infectious dematosis, an infection of the skin, and when it was given the appropriate medicines, the boy recovered and discharged from the hospital.
“Most probably, the same is the condition of two children at the NICH, who had skin infection and blisters and lesions on their bodies, misunderstood as the Monkeypox viral disease. As both the children have no travel history and they did not come in contact with any person who came from abroad, there is no possibility that they are infected with the Monkeypox viral infection,” an infectious disease expert at the CDC Islamabad said. In the meantime, NIH Islamabad and AKUH Karachi officials said they were soon going to acquire the kits, primers and reagents to diagnose the Monkeypox virus. They added that by the start of next week, they would be able to test and detect the viral disease in Islamabad and Karachi. On the other hand, health officials in Lahore told Khawaja Salman Rafiq, the former Punjab Health Minister that they would also get the testing kits for the diagnosis of Monkeypox viral disease by the end of this week or at the start of next week.
Experts said the Monkeypox virus was detected through real-time of the conventional Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), for which machines are available at most of the labs in the country and they only required kits, which could also be developed in the country, including the NIH Islamabad and other health facilities.