Just as the fear over COVID-19 began to decline, a new virus discovered an opportunity to cause global concern. The first case of monkeypox was reported in the first week of April 2022 in a person who had recently visited Nigeria, West Africa. Since then, Monkeypox cases began to rise. Currently, there are over 200 confirmed cases of the Monkeypox virus worldwide.
What is Monkeypox Virus?
Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic infection caused by the transmission from animals to humans as well as from infected humans to humans. It involves symptoms that are similar to smallpox but are less serious. Monkeypox was previously known to infect humans living near tropical rainforests in West and Central Africa, but it has now moved to urban areas. The most common carriers are rodents and non-human primates (monkeys).
Origin of Monkeypox Virus
Monkeypox was first identified in the year 1958 after two major outbreaks of a pox-like disease in the group of monkeys used for research; hence the term “monkeypox”. The first human case of monkeypox was found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970 during a period of maximum effort to reduce the spread of smallpox. After that, Monkeypox has been found in several more Central and Western African nations.
Is any case of the monkeypox virus found in India?
As of now, there has been no reported case of the monkeypox virus in India. Over 200 cases have been reported in 12 countries worldwide. The rise in reported cases across different countries is concerning, and WHO has emphasised the importance of surveillance and monitoring of the spread of monkeypox in India as well.
Symptoms of Monkeypox Virus
The symptoms of the monkeypox virus in humans are comparatively milder than smallpox. The monkeypox virus symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, and tiredness. Furthermore, there are differences between monkeypox and smallpox symptoms.
Smallpox does not cause lymph nodes to enlarge, however, monkeypox does. Other than that, monkeypox has an incubation period of 7-14 days (from infection to symptoms) but it can be as little as 5-21 days in the case of smallpox.
Here are the common symptoms of the monkeypox virus in the beginning: –
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Muscle ache
After the onset of fever, rashes start to appear in 1 to 3 days (sometimes longer), generally starting on the face and spreading to other parts of the body. The disease usually lasts 2-4 weeks.
Over the period of a week or two, the rash develops from small spots to tiny lesions (vesicles) that look similar to chickenpox, and finally to larger, pus-filled blisters. It can take several weeks for these to scab over. After that, the person is no longer contagious. Although the disease usually causes minor problems such as loss of vision due to eye infection and pneumonia, there are instances of sepsis as well.
If a person is experiencing a rash or any of the above symptoms, you can make an appointment at Narayana Health, the best hospital in India to get the right diagnosis.
Is monkeypox deadly?
The mortality or death rate of the monkeypox virus is between 1 to 10% which is quite low to be deadly. Most of the people who get infected with monkeypox make a full recovery. It is still wise to look out for the symptoms and get immediate medical care from the health practitioner.
Is monkeypox related to COVID-19?
No, monkeypox is not related to COVID-19. It’s a different kind of virus infection that is related to smallpox. Also, the monkeypox virus is not related to chickenpox as well.
How does a person get the Monkeypox Virus?
Generally, this virus occurs in people who came into contact with infected animals, people, or virus-contaminated materials. It could be caused by a bite or scratch, or by eating raw animal meat.
The virus can be transmitted between people in three ways: –
- Inhaling respiratory droplets
- Directly or physically contacting an infected individual
- Rarely, through indirect contacts, such as touching infected people’s clothing.
The respiratory route comprises large droplets that do not remain in the air or travel long. As a result, person-to-person transmission often requires long, physical contact.
Who is at risk of monkeypox?
Anyone who has had close contact with a person infected with monkeypox is at risk. People can get infected if they come into close, prolonged contact with someone who has the infection. A large number of cases discovered internationally are among men who have engaged in sexual activities with other men. People who have recently returned from a trip abroad or have visited large parties or had sex on the premise venues should be on the lookout for symptoms. Health workers, who work with patients infected with the monkeypox virus, as well as their family members, are also at risk.
Will the monkeypox virus spread rapidly like COVID-19?
No, it will not spread as quickly as COVID-19 since it is comparatively less contagious, and people are getting aware of the virus, so there is no reason to worry. Monkeypox generally requires human-to-human interaction and physical contact which involves the secretion of infected body fluids to spread the virus. As compared to COVID-19, these types of human interactions are comparatively lower, so it is highly unlikely that this virus spread rapidly like COVID-19.
Prevention of Monkeypox Virus
A number of measures can be taken to prevent the spread of the monkeypox virus. They are as below:
- Avoid contact with animals that are infected with the virus (including animals that are infected or that have been reported dead in places where monkeypox occurs).
- Avoid coming into contact with any things that have been in contact with an infected animal like bedding.
- Isolate infected patients from those who could be contaminated.
- After coming into contact with infected animals or humans, practise good hand hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- When caring for patients, wear personal protective equipment (PPE).
Treatment of Monkeypox Virus
The infection is usually mild and lasts for 2-4 weeks. Some patients may require regular pain relievers and oral fluids, while their health is monitored by a health care provider. A few patients may require supportive management, like intravenous fluids and medications to relieve pain. Some medicines are available that may help in the treatment of patients suffering from serious diseases.
If a person is suffering from severe and life-threatening diseases like sepsis, confluent lesions, encephalitis, or any other condition requires immediate hospitalization. There is currently no approved treatment for monkeypox virus infections. However, antivirals developed for the treatment of smallpox can be useful.
Is there any vaccine for the monkeypox virus?
As of now, there is no vaccine specifically for the monkeypox virus. However, WHO stated that the smallpox virus vaccine was found to be 85% effective in preventing monkeypox spread in the past.
It is best to avoid home remedies and follow doctors’/professionals’ instructions because skin lesions can look like measles, chickenpox, or scabies. The world is still recovering from the consequences of COVID-19, and it is not ready to face another pandemic. And the only way to avoid this is to spread awareness and be well-prepared ahead of time. We can weather any storm, big or small, with proper surveillance, knowledge, and prevention.