I t wasn’t like we were completely done with all the trouble and nuisance that came with the pandemic, led by the menacing Covid-19. However now we are hearing more about the monkeypox and it is causing us a new kind of stress and anxiety. But here’s the thing- it is far off and different from the coronavirus. Social diary is providing a complete overview to understand this condition and why it is not something to lose your sleep over.
Monkeypox is a disease caused by the monkeypox virus. It is a viral zoonotic disease, meaning that it can spread from animals to humans. It can also spread between people.
Monkeypox symptoms can seem flu-like. Symptoms of monkeypox typically include a fever, intense headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy, swollen lymph nodes and a skin rash or lesions. The rash usually begins within one to three days of the start of a fever. Lesions can be flat or slightly raised, filled with clear or yellowish fluid, and can then crust, dry up and fall off. The number of lesions on one person can range from a few to several thousand. The rash tends to be concentrated on the face, palms of the hands and soles of the feet. They can also be found on the mouth, genitals and eyes.Symptoms typically last between 2 to 4 weeks and go away on their own without treatment. If you think you have symptoms that could be monkeypox, seek advice from your health care provider. Let them know if you have had close contact with someone who has suspected or confirmed monkeypox.
But considering how it ranks against the pandemic- the thing is, it is not as fatal. In most cases, the symptoms of monkeypox go away on their own within a few weeks, but in some individuals, they can lead to medical complications and even death. Newborns, children and people with underlying immune deficiencies may be at risk of more serious symptoms and death from monkeypox. Complications from severe cases of monkeypox include skin infections, pneumonia, confusion and eye infections which can lead to loss of vision. Around 3–6% of reported cases have led to death in endemic countries in recent times, often in children or persons who may have other health conditions. It is important to note that this may be an overestimate because surveillance in endemic countries is limited
How Does It Spread?
People with monkeypox are infectious while they have symptoms (normally for between two and four weeks). You can catch monkeypox through close physical contact with someone who has symptoms. The rash, bodily fluids (such as fluid, pus or blood from skin lesions) and scabs are particularly infectious. Clothing, bedding, towels or objects like eating utensils/dishes that have been contaminated with the virus from contact with an infected person can also infect others. Ulcers, lesions or sores in the mouth can also be infectious, meaning the virus can spread through saliva. People who closely interact with someone who is infectious, including health workers, household members and sexual partners are therefore at greater risk for infection. The virus can also spread from someone who is pregnant to the foetus from the placenta, or from an infected parent to child during or after birth through skin-to-skin contact. It is not clear whether people who do not have symptoms can spread the disease.
Newborns, children and people with underlying immune deficiencies may be at risk of more serious symptoms and death from monkeypox. Health workers are also at higher risk due to longer virus exposure.
Protecting from Monkeypox
You can reduce your risk by limiting contact with people who have suspected or confirmed monkeypox. If you do need to have physical contact with someone who has monkeypox because you are a health worker or live together, encourage the infected person to self-isolate and cover any skin lesion if they can (e.g., by wearing clothing over the rash). When you are physically close to them, they should wear a medical mask, especially if they are coughing or have lesions in their mouth. You should wear one also. Avoid skin-to-skin contact whenever possible and use disposable gloves if you have any direct contact with lesions. Wear a mask when handling any clothes or bedding if the person cannot do it themselves. Regularly clean your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub, especially after contact with the person who is infected, their clothes, bed sheets, towels and other items or surfaces they have touched or that might have come into contact with their rash or respiratory secretions (e.g., utensils, dishes). Wash the person’s clothes, towels and bedsheets and eat utensils with warm water and detergent. Clean and disinfect
Monkeypox symptoms often resolve on their own without the need for treatment. It is important to take care of the rash by letting it dry if possible or covering it with a moist dressing to protect the area if needed. Avoid touching any sores in the mouth or eyes. Mouth rinses and eye drops can be used as long as cortisone-containing products are avoided. Vaccinia immune globulin (VIG) may be recommended for severe cases. An antiviral that was developed to treat smallpox (tecovirimat, commercialized as TPOXX) was also approved for the treatment of monkeypox in January 2022.
Will It Lead to Another Pandemic?
Monkeypox is not typically considered to be very contagious because it requires close physical contact with someone who is infectious (e.g., skin to skin) to spread between people. The risk to the general public is low. WHO is responding to this outbreak as a high priority to avoid further spread and has for many years considered monkeypox a priority pathogen. The cases we are currently seeing are not typical for outbreaks of monkeypox because there is no reported travel from endemic countries or to animals exported from endemic countries. Identifying how the virus is spreading and protecting more people from becoming infected should be a priority for all. Raising awareness about this new situation will help to stop further transmission.