The Monkey Pox disease, which has been reported in over 16 countries throughout the world, is a viral zoonosis, or a virus transmitted from animals to humans. The symptoms are similar to that of smallpox; however, they are clinically less severe. Monkeypox is typically found in the tropical rainforests of Central and West Africa, and also in areas where animals that can carry the virus live.
From Animals: People can contract monkeypox if they come in physical contact with an affected animal. Rodents and primates are examples of animal hosts. The risk of contracting monkeypox from animals can be reduced by avoiding unprotected contact with wild animals, particularly those that are sick or dead (including their meat and blood). In countries where Monkeypox is endemic and is mostly spread by animals, any food item including animal meat should be cooked thoroughly before consumption.
From Humans: Although human-to-human transmission of the monkeypox virus is rare, it can occur through close skin contact, air droplets, bodily fluids, and virus-contaminated objects. Infectious ulcers, lesions, and sores in the mouth can also transfer the virus through saliva. People who have close contact with an infectious person, such as health care workers, household members, and sexual partners, are more vulnerable to infection.
Monkey Pox is a self-limiting disease with symptoms lasting 2 to 4 weeks. The virus takes 6-13 days, to incubate in an individual’s body, but in some cases, it may range from 5-21 days.
An individual infected with the virus typically shows symptoms like fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy, swollen lymph nodes, and skin rash or lesions. Lesions can be flat or slightly elevated, filled with clear or yellowish fluid, that eventually crust, dries up, and fall off. The rash mostly affects the face, palms of the hands, and soles of the feet. They also appear on the lips, genitals, and eyes.
Firstly, any individual, who comes in close physical contact with someone who has symptoms of the virus or with an animal infected by the virus is likely to contract the disease.
Individuals who have been vaccinated against smallpox are at low risk of contracting the disease, however, these individuals must take proper protection to avoid contracting Monkey Pox.
Secondly, children, young people who have not been vaccinated against smallpox, newborn babies, and individuals with a weak immunity system are at a high risk of contracting the disease. Health workers are also vulnerable to the virus because of their prolonged exposure to the virus.
The symptoms of Money Pox often disappear without any treatment. But here are a few steps that one can follow for quick recovery from the disease:
Allowing the rash to dry if possible or covering it with a moist dressing to protect the area if necessary.
Any sores in the mouth or eyes should not be touched.
Mouthwashes and eye drops are safe to use as long as cortisone-containing medications are avoided.
According to WHO, vaccinia immune globulin (VIG), an antiviral that was developed to treat smallpox and was approved in Jan 2022 to treat Monkey Pox as well, is recommended in severe cases of Monkey Pox.
To contain the spread of the virus, the main prevention strategy for monkeypox is to raise public knowledge of risk factors and educate individuals about the steps they may take to decrease virus exposure. Scientific research and studies are being conducted to determine the feasibility and suitability of vaccination for the prevention and control of monkeypox.
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