What is Monkeypox? - Seeker's Thoughts

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What is Monkeypox?

 Amid coronavirus, another rare virus outbreak is slowly taking place called monkeypox. The virus is called monkeypox because it was first identified in colonies of monkeys kept for research in 1958; it was later detected in humans in 1970; this rare viral infection spread across Europe and the Americas. The outbreak is not significant so far. According to the WHO, the virus in North America and Europe primarily spreads through sex, especially among men and about 200 confirmed and suspected cases across at least a dozen countries.

What exactly is monkeypox?

It’s a rare disease caused by the virus called monkeypox; it’s a zoonotic viral disease; it can easily spread from animal to human and human as it requires close contact with bodily fluids, such as saliva from saliva coughing or pus from lesions.

The virus is commonly found in central and west Africa, where the tropical rainforest is. Usually animals that carry the virus typically live there.

People carrying the virus are commonly identified in other countries outside of central and west Africa and have a travel history from the endemic monkeypox regions.

However, surprisingly in England, the vast majority of the 50 plus cases don’t involve recent travel to Africa, suggesting the patients involved in those cases caught the virus in England.

Monkeypox symptoms

The common symptoms of monkeypox usually include fever, strong headache, muscle soring, back pain, low energy, swollen lymph nodes, and skin rashes.

The rashes start appearing within one to three days of the start of a fever. Lesions can be visible as flat or slightly raised, filled with yellowish fluid, and then curst dry up and fall off.

The lesions can range from a few to thousands, and they can appear on the face, hands palm , and soles of the feet. They can also be found in the mouth, genitals, and eyes.

The symptoms can last between 2 to 4 weeks and go away on their own without any treatment. 

However, in some rare cases, symptoms can lead to severe condition and even death. Newborns, children, and people with low immune system or immune deficiencies are vulnerable to this virus and at risk of more severe symptoms and death from monkeypox.

Severe symptoms – complications with symptoms that can be deadly include skin infections, pneumonia, confusion, and eye infections which can lead to vision. Around 3-6% of reported cases have led to death in endemic countries in recent times.

How does the virus spread from animals to humans?

The monkeypox virus can spread to people if they come into physical contact with an infected animal. Animals hosts include rodents and primates.

Spread from human to human

Humans can easily catch the disease by close physical contact or sexual contact with someone who has symptoms. Moreover, clothing, bedding, towels, or object like utensils/dishes that have been contaminated with the virus from contact with an infected individual can also infect other people.

The virus can also spread from pregnant to the fetus from the placenta or an infected woman to child during or after birth through skin-to-skin contact.

Vaccination and treatment

There are several vaccines available to prevent smallpox that also provide some protection against monkeypox. A new vaccine was developed for smallpox called (MVA-BN, also known as Immune, Imvanex, or Jynnoes). These vaccines were approved in 2019 for use in preventing monkeypox and are not yet widely available.

Currently, WHO is working with the manufacturer to improve access. Those who have been vaccinated against smallpox in the past can also have some protection from the monkeypox.

The treatment for monkeypox is to take care of the rashes by letting them dry and covering them with a moist dressing to protect the area if needed. Avoid touching your mouth and eyes. the rVaccinia Immune Globulin (VIG) may be recommended in complicated cases. An antiviral that was developed to treat smallpox (tecovirimat, commercialized as TPOXX) has also been approved for the treatment of monkeypox in 2022.

Is there any high possibility of this becoming a more significant outbreak?

This virus is not typically considered very contagious because it requires close contact with the infectious person. According to the WHO, the cases currently seen are not typical for monkeypox outbreaks, so far there are no current reports of travel from endemic countries or to animals exported from endemic countries. However, the awareness of the virus will help to prevent further transmission.

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