So far the Monkeypox Virus had been endemic to Africa, recently there has been a surge in human Monkeypox cases in many more countries (including Europe and USA ) and this is causing concern. The world is still reeling from the SARS-Covid-2 pandemic and so there is some speculation about whether another pandemic is brewing.
1.What is Monkeypox?
Monkey pox is a disease that looks similar to smallpox and is caused by The Monkeypox virus belonging to the Orthopoxvirus genus of Poxviridae family.
2.Where did Monkeypox Originate?
Smallpox was almost eradicated when the first case of Human Monkeypox was discovered in1970.Because this infection was first seen in monkeys in 1958 , it was called Monkeypox by scientists.
The first human case was that of a 9-year old child in the Equateur province of Zaire. The child had symptoms similar to smallpox. This was that was later recognized as the first case of human monkeypox by the WHO.
3.How does Monkeypox Virus spread?
The Prairie dogs are the primary hosts of the Monkey Pox virus. Further, the Prairie dogs have known to infect the small mammals like domestic pig, Gambian rats, elephant shrew, Thomas’s tree/rope squirrel, Kuhl’s tree squirrel, and sun squirrel.
Humans can catch the Monkeypox Virus by consuming the flesh of infected animals or when they come in close contact with infected animals. Incidentally, many human Monkeypox cases are also men who have sex with men, but that angle still needs more research. So far we don’t know for sure if the infection can spread through droplets (coughing, sneezing ) or fomites (infected food and clothes).
4.Symptoms of Monkeypox
Incubation Period – After exposure to the Monkeypox Virus , a person may take 5-21 days to start showing the symptoms of the disease with 4-5days being the norm.
You may develop fever as the first sign with headache, drenching sweat, chills, fatigue, body aches, cough etc. After 2-3 days the typical rash appears. In contrast to Chicken pox and smallpox, Monkeypox shows swollen and painful lymph nodes in the neck area or groins within 2-3 days of the fever.
The rash starts usually from the face and can spread all over the body including the palms and soles. The rash starts from being red bumps to pus-filled ones and finally the scab falls off leaving small ulcers on the skin that heal slowly. Monkeypox generally takes 2-4 weeks to complete its course.
5.How do we confirm a Monkeypox Virus infection?
Besides having a history of contact with an infected person, that can point to the diagnosis, Your doctor can recommend Polymerase chain reaction (PCR ) tests from swabbing the nose and throat . The skin biopsy or fluid from the skin lesions can also confirm the diagnosis.
6.What are the Risks of getting Monkeypox infection?
In Africa, up to 1-6 % of infected people die due to complications associated with this disease, but it is probably because of malnutrition .Luckily, In healthy individuals, the Monkeypox virus does not seem to cause any lasting damage.
7.How do we prevent/treat a Monkeypox Virus infection?
This treatment is generally symptomatic. It includes treating for fever, body ache, managing itching, avoiding dehydration and preventing infection of the ulcerated skin.
While not a fatal disease and certainly no cause for panic, in most cases, Monkeypox infection can be distressing. Some steps that can help in checking the spread of this infection are:
- Education and raising awareness about the means of transmission
- Simple methods of sanitization can reduce the risk of infection. For example washing hands with soap and water, avoiding contact with infected people, wearing PPE like masks etc.
- Early diagnosis and timely treatment can reduce possible complications
- Effective Vaccines against the Monkeypox Virus are available and can protect against severe disease
2. The CDC | Cynthia S Goldsmith, Russell Regnery. [Public domain.]
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