All you need to know about Monkeypox, its symptoms and prevention

With numerous news articles surging in about monkeypox, some articles will tell you something and another will tell you something else. This leads to confusion and confusion leads to panic. Wouldn’t it have been better if you could’ve gotten all the relevant details all at one place? Well you found it, this article is a brief document containing everything you need to or might want to know about Monkeypox.

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease caused by the monkeypox virus. A zoonotic disease means that it can spread from animals to humans. It is also spreading from one human to another. Currently there are two strains of the monkeypox – Central and West African. Central African monkeypox is the more dangerous of the two and is more likely to cause death.

Read: Monkeypox Vs Smallpox

History of Monkeypox

Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 in monkeys during research. Hence, the name, monkeypox. Its first case was witnessed in a 9 year old boy in Africa in 1970. In 2003, the first case of Monkeypox was observed outside of Africa. This time it occurred in the United States of America.

Read: Monkeypox Vs Chickenpox

How does monkeypox spread from animals to humans?

Zoonotic transmission or animal-to-human transmission occurs through direct contact with blood, or any other bodily fluid, or any openscar of the infected animal. Rope squirrels, tree squirrels, Gambian pouched rats, dormice, many species of monkeys, etc. have all been found to contain evidence of monkeypox virus infection in Africa. Researchers are yet to find the natural reservoir of monkeypox but they believe that rodents are most likely it. Another way to get infected by the monkeypox virus is by consuming improperly cooked meat or any other animal product of an infected animal. People living in the vicinity of a forest area are at risk of somewhat exposure to infected animals.

How does monkeypox spread from person to person?

Monkeypox spreads from one person to another through close contact. Skin lesions, rash, bodily fluid, and scab are all responsible for spreading the virus from infectant to a healthy person. Respiratory secretion is also a factor for the transmission but it usually takes prolonged exposure to fact-to-face contact to get infected in this manner which is why healthcare professionals, family members and other close relations of an infected person are at a greater risk. An infected mother can also spread the virus to her fetus, or by close contact after birth. Scientists have established that close contact is a risk-factor of transmission but they are yet to prove if the virus spreads specially through sexual transmission. More studies are underway to understand the risks in a better sense.

Signs and symptoms

It can take anywhere from 5 to 21 days for the symptoms to start showing themselves after a person gets infected with the virus. The symptoms stages have been divided into two parts:

Firstly, the invasion period that lasts between 0 to 5 days and consists of 

  • fever, 
  • intense headache, 
  • lymphadenopathy ( which is the swelling of lymph nodes ), 
  • back pain, 
  • muscle aches, 
  • lack of energy. 

Its lymphadenopathy which distinguishes monkeypox from smallpox which it has close resemblance to. 

Lesions progress through the following stages before falling off:

  • Macules
  • Papules
  • Vesicles
  • Pustules
  • Scabs

The typical lifespan of the virus is about 2−4 weeks. Monkeypox has caused death to only about 1 in 10 persons in Africa who contracted this disease. 

Prevention from Monkeypox

Numerous ways exist to prevent a person from monkeypox. Some of them are:

  • Isolate any person showing early signs of the virus.
  • Maintain a hygienic environment around you and especially when you live in the vicinity of an infected person.
  • Avoid animals who are at risk of being infected.
  • Wash your clothes properly as monkeypox virus can be killed with standard washing machine with warm water and detergent
  • Avoid meat related food items.
  • Use of personal protective equipment (PPE) is recommended when caring for any infected persons.

Cure for Monkeypox

As of writing this article, there is no proper cure for monkeypox. The vaccine which was used for smallpox is believed to be showing results against monkeypox but is still not a guaranteed or even a recommended course of action. At the first sign of the symptoms it is recommended to stay isolated from others and contact your doctor regarding the next course of action. The virus is rarely deadly and usually heals on its own.

Unknown facts about the Monkeypox virus

  • The virus is very rare and not considered an epidemic yet. 
  • Monkeypox is more common in children.
  • Monkeypox is milder than smallpox.
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