Monkeypox Outbreak: What You Need to Know - Seeker's Thoughts

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Monkeypox Outbreak: What You Need to Know


Monkeypox differs from coronavirus in that its transmission usually involves close physical contact between people - usually through animal bites, scratches or body fluids being transmitted, in addition to being spread via surfaces or clothing that have become contaminated.



This outbreak involves the West African clade of Zika virus, and previous outbreaks were associated with fatalities of approximately one percent.

Symptoms

This outbreak's strain of monkeypox virus resembles that found endemic in West Africa, spreading through close contact, such as kissing or sharing personal items like clothing and personal care items; respiratory droplets produced when someone sneezes or coughs; eating infected animals or coming in direct contact with its blood or skin lesions - making the virus both transmissible from animal to humans and vice versa.

Symptoms of illness typically begin with a general sense of being unwell, often with fever and aching muscles. Soon after this stage is reached, a rash typically appears on the face before spreading throughout the body - typically appearing as red spots that progress to blister-like lesions on hands, feet or legs and occasionally located near genital or perianal areas where they could lead to confusion with sexually transmitted infections or STIs - before eventually scabbing over and falling off after approximately one month.

After experiencing the first symptoms, people become infectious and can spread them to others. An incubation period usually lasts four to 21 days before symptoms emerge; during that time a person may begin feeling unwell before their rash appears. Individuals more susceptible, including those with weak immune systems, may develop more serious symptoms or complications.

As this disease continues its spread in the US and beyond, it's critical for individuals to avoid close physical contact between themselves. Sharing towels or dishware should also be avoided whenever possible and public areas should use sanitizers regularly - although experts do not anticipate an epidemic or pandemic occurring anytime soon.

However, this outbreak is cause for alarm due to its spread by men who have had sexual contact with other men - something we still don't fully understand - suggesting the virus hasn't reached all corners of its intended target population yet. Though not a cause for panicking immediately, this should remind us to communicate more openly on how this disease spreads.

Diagnosis

Monkeypox causes red spots which rapidly progress to painful pus-filled blister-like lesions that spread all over the body, but most frequently affects faces, hands and legs. Although symptoms of monkeypox can appear anywhere on its host's anatomy (genitals/anus etc), symptoms are sometimes mistaken as sexually transmitted infections like herpes/syphilis due to anus infections appearing with it; until its effects subside scabs and blisters remain infectious for up to 30 days or until these effects fall off, virus transmission can occur via direct contact between two individuals as well as touching contaminated surfaces with it on.

People were once susceptible to contracting the virus by directly contracting it from wild animals through animal bites, scratches, contact with their feces or bodily fluids or eating unpasteurized meat. Furthermore, it could also spread via mother to fetus transmission through placenta attachment or during close contact between mother and newborns.

Many cases this year were among men who engage in intimate relations, leading some to worry that monkeypox can spread through sexual transmission. But new evidence indicates otherwise. Contrary to coronavirus which typically spread through respiratory droplets and surfaces contamination, monkeypox doesn't spread easily between people; researchers in Utah conducted tests using swabs taken from various objects and surfaces near two patient homes where monkeypox DNA could be detected but none was able to replicate or infect other people.

CDC scientists are actively working on creating a test for the virus. Up until recently, testing consisted of collecting samples from scabs and boiling them in laboratory solutions; this process proved time consuming and expensive when testing large numbers of people at once. A few private labs have collaborated with the CDC in developing more cost-effective tests; however, their availability remains limited.

The Biden administration is meeting this need by encouraging commercial labs to offer orthopoxvirus tests, and by providing funding to expand public health labs' capacity to run them. Together, public and commercial laboratories offer the CDC Orthopoxvirus (monkeypox) test at about 80,000 tests a week; Quest Diagnostics recently developed its own test that is more specific for this virus; soon it should be available at higher rates.

Transmission

As this outbreak continues to spread globally, researchers are learning more about its spread and how it differs from fast-spreading respiratory diseases such as COVID-19. Early predictions that monkeypox transmitted mostly through repeated skin-to-skin contact between people were accurate; however, later discoveries revealed the virus can spread through clothing, bedding or sneezes and coughs produced up to six feet away as well.

This outbreak involves the western African strain of monkeypox, which tends to be more severe and has a higher fatality rate than previous Congo Basin outbreaks. Therefore, health officials have focused on raising awareness of this strain of virus as well as how to prevent transmission through education efforts; including encouraging gay, bisexual and other men who engage in intimate relations to get vaccinated against transmission. Furthermore, The Biden administration regularly updates local, state, and tribal leaders and communities regarding information related to how best protect themselves against this illness.

These efforts include recreating sexual scenes between HIV-positive men to ascertain which form of activity most likely to result in infection. While the virus can spread heterosexually, most cases in this outbreak involve male-on-male sexual or intimate contact.

Researchers are also attempting to study the virus's genome by extracting DNA from cases linked to it. This can provide researchers with valuable information about how the disease spreads and identify mutations that could make the monkeypox virus more or less deadly or transmissible; however, this process can be laborious since its genome is seven times larger than SARS-CoV-2's and 20 times longer than HIV's genome.

Understanding how the virus spreads is paramount as vaccine supplies dwindle. At the start of the outbreak, when doses were scarce, health officials only offered vaccinations to people known to have had contact with an individual diagnosed with the illness; this likely contributed to its rapid spread through asymptomatic transmission leading to more cases, notes Swartzberg.

Prevention

Monkeypox outbreaks typically occurred among close quarters, such as college dorms, office buildings or housing projects. But this new outbreak appears to be spreading through sexual contact - something experts at the CDC are currently exploring in order to understand how it happened.

Monkeypox tends to resolve itself naturally, with most people not needing treatment. But it's still wise to be on the lookout for symptoms so doctors can address any concerns early and prescribe any necessary drugs, like acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin which may cover up early warning signs of the virus.

Monkeypox infection risks increase with prolonged skin-to-skin contact with lesion fluids or scabs and intimate physical contact, such as kissing or cuddling, as well as with exposure through inhaling infectious droplets in the air. Although respiratory infection from monkeypox is less likely than that caused by COVID-19, it still exists and should be taken seriously if someone is exposed for extended periods.

At first, this outbreak caused much alarm; many worried how quickly and widely the virus might spread through communities and across the United States; but most Americans remain relatively immune. It appears this outbreak is being caused by what's known as western African clade of monkeypox which has long existed in Nigeria.

This strain doesn't share genetic similarities with sARS-CoV-2 strain that killed at least seven people in 2003, so scientists are studying its circulating virus closely to understand where it came from, how it spread and whether any mutations might make it more pathogenic or transmissible.

One way that CDC is helping prevent the spread of the disease is by making it easier for healthcare providers to diagnose and report cases. Finding labs capable of testing for the virus can sometimes be challenging; to increase capacity and accessibility even further, testing has expanded to 78 sites in 48 states across America, plus private laboratory companies are receiving kits as part of this expansion effort.

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