After 3 years of the COVID-19 pandemic, no one wants to hear about rising cases of any virus. However, the bad news is that monkeypox cases are spreading; not only in countries where the virus was previously endemic. There are currently over 80,000 global cases of monkeypox reported in 42 countries. As this virus is on the rise, it’s important we understand how we can effectively decrease the likelihood of getting infected.
WHAT ARE MONKEYPOX?
Monkeypox is classified as a zoonotic virus which means that it is transmitted from animals to people. It was first observed in 1958 in a group of monkeys kept in a research laboratory in Denmark; however, the first human case of monkeypox infection was reported in a 9-month-old baby in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1970. Since then, it has spread across around 10 countries in Central and West Africa where it is considered endemic. Up until now, the West has successfully protected itself from monkeypox thanks to vaccinations. It is, however, worth noting that the presence of the virus in Africa can be largely attributed to unequal distribution of vaccines worldwide.
One can contract monkeypox through direct contact with someone who is infected or by being in contact with their fluids. It is also possible to get infected by touching objects used by a person with the virus. This especially includes towels, bedding and more intimate or personal belongings.
The symptoms differ slightly from person to person, but all patients have a characteristic rash on different parts of the body. The rash follows different stages, starting with pimple-like spots, through scabbing and then healing. Unfortunately, in severe cases of monkeypox, the rash can cause scarring. Many patients also experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes. The symptoms develop within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus and are sometimes preceded by flu symptoms.
HOW TO STOP THE SPREAD OF THE VIRUS
Maintaining good hygiene is one of the most effective ways to avoid monkeypox infection. It is recommended to wash your hands frequently. It is also important to avoid direct contact with other infected patients and if such a situation occurred, a medical professional should be asked for help.
CDC. “2022 United States Monkeypox Response and Recommendations | Monkeypox | Poxvirus | CDC.” Www.cdc.gov, 26 May 2022, www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/response/2022/index.html.
—. “Monkeypox in the U.S.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5 Aug. 2022, www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/symptoms/index.html.
Maurizio de Angelis/Science photo libraryMonkeypox virus, illustration. Monkeypox virus particles are composed of a DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) genome surrounded by a protein coat and lipid envelope.
New York State. “Monkeypox.” Health.ny.gov, Nov. 2022, health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/zoonoses/monkeypox/.
WHO. “Monkeypox Outbreak 2022.” Www.who.int, 2022, www.who.int/emergencies/situations/monkeypox-oubreak-2022.
World Health Organization. “Monkeypox.” Who.int, World Health Organization, 19 May 2022, www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/monkeypox.