Monkeypox is a rare disease that is caused by infection with Monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus belongs to the orthopoxvirus genus in the family poxviridae. The orthopoxvirus genus also include variola virus (which causes smallpox), vaccinia virus (used in smallpox vaccine), and cowpox virus. Monkeypox is mainly spread by wild animals in parts of west or central Africa.
Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 when outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in monkeys kept for research. The first human case was reported in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and since then the infection has been reported in a number of central and western African countries. Most cases are reported from the DRC and Nigeria.
The current spread of Monkeypox :
In May 2022, more than 80 cases of Monkeypox have been confirmed in at least 12 countries. The World Health Organization has said another 50 suspected cases are being investigated , without naming any countries and warned that more cases are likely to be reported. Infections have been confirmed in Europe (eg , England, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Italy, Belgium, France), as well as the US, Canada and Australia. According to the CDC, they are worried about an unusual outbreak of Monkeypox in the UK, Its first case in the US was first identified in Massachusetts . Some cases were reported among men who have sex with men, and also were reported in people who live in the same household as an infected person.
What are the symptoms of monkeypox ?
In humans, the symptoms of monkeypox are similar to those of smallpox , although symptoms are usually milder.
The incubation period (the time between contact with the infected person and the time that the first symptom appear ) for monkeypox is between 5 to 21 days.
The infection is usually a self-limiting illness and most people recover within several weeks (2 to 4 weeks). However, sever illness can occur in some individuals.
The initial symptoms are:
- Muscle aches.
- Back aches.
- Swollen lymph nodes (the main difference between symptoms of smallpox and monkeypox that does not occur in smallpox).
A rash develops within 1 to 5 days after the appearance of fever (often beginning on the face then spreading to other parts of the body) . The rash changes and goes through different stages before finally falling off :
How is monkeypox transmitted?
Monkeypox does not spread easily between people. Spread of monkeypox may occur when a person comes into close contact with an infected animal ( it is thought to be spread by rodents, such as rats, mice and squirrels) , human , or materials contaminated with virus.
The virus enters the body through broken skin (even if not visible) , respiratory tract, or the mucous membranes ( eyes, nose, or mouth). You can catch monkeypox from an infected animal if you are bitten or you touch its blood, body fluids, spots, blisters or scabs. It may also be possible to catch monkeypox by eating meat from an infected animal that has not been cooked thoroughly , or by touching other products from infected animals (such as animal skin or fur).
Monkeypox can also spread through:
- Touching clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with monkeypox rash.
- Touching monkeypox skin blisters or scabs.
- The coughs or sneezes of a person with the monkeypox rash.
However, person-to-person spread is uncommon.
How to treat monkeypox ?
Currently, there is no proven, safe treatment for monkeypox virus infection and the treatment is mainly supportive.
The illness is usually mild and most of the infected will recover within a few weeks without treatment.
To control a monkeypox outbreak in the United States , smallpox vaccine, antivirals ( cidofovir , tecovirimat ) , and vaccinia immune globulin (VIG) can be used.
Vaccination against smallpox can be used for both pre and post exposure, and is up to 85% effective in preventing monkeypox. People vaccinated against smallpox in childhood may experience a disease with very mild symptoms.
How to prevent monkeypox ?
According to WHO , raising awareness of risk factors and educating people about the measures they can take to reduce exposure to virus is the main prevention strategy for monkeypox.
Reducing the risk of human-to-human transmission Reducing the risk of zoonotic transmission Preventing monkeypox through restrictions on animal trade All that by:
- Avoid contact with infected animals ( especially sick or dead animals).
- Avoiding contact with bedding and other materials contaminated with the virus.
- Washing your hands with soap and water after coming into contact with infected animal.
- Avoiding contact with people who may be infected with the virus.
- Cooking all foods that contain animal meat or parts.
- Using personal protective equipment (PPE) when caring for people infected with the virus.