Monkeypox is a rare viral disease with symptoms similar to smallpox but has less severe manifestation. It is a zoonotic disease means a virus transmitted to humans from animals. Monkeypox initially occurred in tropical forest areas of central and West Africa. Afterward, it spread to other regions.
The vaccination against smallpox also protects monkeypox. But, after the eradication of smallpox and the stoppage of its vaccination, monkeypox emerges as a health concern.
The causative agent of monkeypox
Monkeypox is a viral-contagious disease, and the causative pathogen is the monkeypox virus, a member of the Orthopoxvirus genus of the Poxviridae family. It spreads from animals to humans. The natural hosts of the monkeypox virus are rodents (tree squirrels, dormice, Gambian poached rats, and rope squirrels) and non-human primates. It can also transmit to a person from another person by close contact, respiratory droplets, contact with body fluid or lesions, and using personal items.
There are two types of subfamilies of the monkeypox virus:
- Central African subfamily: It is more severe and more transmissible.
- West Africa subfamily: The symptoms are less severe.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970, the first outbreak of monkeypox in humans came into notice. It mainly affects the countries of central and West Africa during that time. The first outbreak outside of Africa was in the United States of America. Afterward, monkeypox became a disease of global health concern.
Signs and symptoms of monkeypox
Monkeypox disease is a self-limiting illness that resolves in 2-4 weeks. The incubation period (time interval from infection to starting of symptoms) ranges from 5 to 21 days. It can affect anyone but is more common in children. The total infectious span can describe in two periods:
- Invasion period: It lasts between 1-5 days from the infection and is characterized by:
- Severe headache and muscle aches (myalgia)
- Back pain
- Swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy)
- Lack of energy and lethargy
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Eruption period: After one to three days, rashes start appearing on the face and spread to other body parts, including the palms of the hand, soles of the feet, oral mucous membrane, conjunctivae, and genitalia. Initially, rashes start as flat, red humps and turn into pus-filled blisters. After a few days, these blister crust over and depleted.
Infection risk groups of monkeypox
Anyone can get the infection that comes closer to an infected person. The smallpox vaccine also protects against this disease. But, after the smallpox vaccine cessation due to its eradication, the prevalence of monkeypox increased in young children.
Newborns, children, and immune-deficient people are at the risk of the monkeypox virus.
Healthcare providers working in the risk areas are more prone to get infected with the monkeypox virus.
Diagnosis of monkeypox
The symptoms of monkeypox are similar to other rash illnesses, such as measles, smallpox, chickenpox, syphilis, bacterial skin infections, scabies, and medicines-related allergies. But, the lymphadenopathy distinguishes it from chickenpox and smallpox.
If you have monkeypox, the doctor suggests:
- A tissue sample from the skin lesion
- The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test provides accuracy and sensitivity.
- Antigen detection test
Treatment of monkeypox
There is no specific treatment available for the monkeypox. But preventive measures provide protection and outbreak of monkeypox illness.
Antiviral drugs and symptomatic treatment are the best treatment approaches for monkeypox. Monitoring your symptoms and treating them may help. Mostly, people get better with time without medical intervention.
Preventive measures against the monkeypox illness
Monkeypox is a contagious disease that spreads to humans from infected humans or animals, especially when you come in contact with a blister, respiratory droplets, or other bodily fluids. Following are some preventive measures to protect you from getting an infection:
- Do not come in close contact with sick and infected animals or humans.
- Avoid touching or sitting on the contaminated bed or other materials, and if you accidentally come in contact, wash or sanitize the contacted body parts.
- Thoroughly cook animal meat and organs.
- If you get infected, isolate yourself to prevent the spread of the infection.
- Properly wash your hands with soap and water or sanitize them with alcohol-based sanitizers.
- Clean and disinfect any contaminated surfaces
- Appropriately dispose of contaminated-waste
- Wear a mask and disposable gloves while handling the infected person
Monkeypox is a milder infection. But, consult a healthcare provider if you develop any above signs and symptoms.