So, what is Monkeypox? Monkeypox, a viral disease, is caused by the Monkeypox virus.
A somewhat rare disease, it primarily occurs in the remote parts of Central and West Africa, near the tropical rainforests.
When the Monkeypox virus was first discovered?
It was in 1958 that it was first discovered by a group of scientists at the State Serum Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark. Today, the virus is known to be a member of the ‘Orthopoxvirus’ genus in the family ‘Poxviridae’.
How Can It Affect You?
- It is infectious in nature and causes a fatal illness in humans.
- The disease is somewhat similar to Smallpox, but is a little milder.
How Is It Transmitted?
A zoonotic disease, it can be transmitted from animals to humans, and is usually transmitted to humans from pets and rodents through contact with the animal’s blood or a bite. The virus can spread among humans by both respiratory and physical contact.
Risk factors for transmission include the following:
- Sharing a bed or a room,
- Using the same utensils
- Coming in contact with the patient
What are the Symptoms of Monkeypox?
Its incubation period, i.e. the period between exposure to the infection and the appearance of the first symptoms is from six to sixteen days, and in some cases, it also ranges from 5 to 21 days.
There are two periods here that you need to know about.
- The invasion period
- The skin eruption period.
The Invasion Period
The invasion period which is from 0 to 5 days, can be characterized by fever, intense headache, swelling in the nodes of the lymph, back pain, muscle pain and an intense asthenia, i.e. lack of energy.
Further, the skin eruption period which can be traced within 1-3 days after the appearance of fever, is the period wherein various stages of the rash appears, often beginning from the face and then spreading to the other body parts.
In as much as 95% of cases, the most affected are the face, palms of the hands and soles of the feet
The Skin Eruption Period
This period can be particularly painful for patients as it’s not one thing that we are looking at, but different processes culminating into one.
The entire process is detailed below.
Step 1 – Rashes emerge from maculopapules
Step 2- These then become vesicles which are actually small fluid-filled blisters.
Step 3- The vesicles then turn to pustules which then become crusts – all in as little as ten days.
The crusts disappear after around three weeks.
The number of the lesions can vary from a few to several thousand, affecting the oral mucous membranes, the genitalia, eyelid, as well as the eyeball.
How Do You Distinguish Monkey Pox?
Doctors can distinguish monkeypox from other diseases through different symptoms, but one of the primary ways to notice it is the swollen lymph nodes.
Here, the patient develops severe lymphadenopathy, i.e. swollen lymph nodes, before the appearance of the rash.
The entire symptom will last as many as 21 days, and are sometimes more severe, depending on virus exposure, and severity of complications.
When Are You Most Likely to Be Affected?
It has been seen that people living in or near the forested areas are more likely to be affected, having indirect or low-level exposure to infected animals.
Fatalities, as far as those that are documented, accounts for around 10% – mostly among young children. In general, people of younger age-groups, appear to be more prone to this disease.
How can we prevent Monkeypox?
There are a number of measures that one can take to prevent infection with monkeypox virus.
To begin with, avoid any contact with animals that may transfer the virus – which of course, primarily includes monkeys. Here are a few tips that will help you stay safe when you are in Africa.
- Do not go near animals that are sick or that have been found dead in areas where monkeypox occurs).
- Avoid contact with any material that has been in contact with a sick animal.
- Since there is no specific medication for treating this disease yet, you need to be really careful
- However, there have been instances wherein the vaccsmallpoxall pox, and antivirals have been used to control it.
What Should You Do If You Find Someone Having Monkeypox?
In absence of a specific medication, it becomes inevitable to isolate the infected patients from others, in order to reduce the risk of further transmission of the disease.
In addition to that, cleanliness has always been the first line of defence in the fight against contracting diseases, including Monkeypox.
Focus on leading a healthy and hygienic life. For example, washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Avoid Monkey Meat
It is also advisable to not eat monkey meat, even if it is cooked completely, because certain bacteria don’t even die on cooking, and can cause some problems at a later stage.
Use Protective Gear
People who are involved in treating the people who are suffering from this disease, such as doctors, nurses, medical practitioners, are comparatively at a higher risk of getting exposed to such a disease through the ailing patient.
It is hence necessary for such people to use personal protective equipment, better known as PPE, when caring for patients suffering from this disease.
Being Aware – How Does It Help?
Lastly, creating awareness about the disease and also spreading information about ways by which one can tackle it, is the responsibility of the highest order, for the governments of the countries that have a large number of patients who are suffering from this disease.
For this purpose, modes of communications such as newspapers and radios etc. can be extensively used.
Governments need to come out with social schemes, which might help in engaging more and more volunteers for tackling this disease and preventing it from becoming an epidemic.
It is also the responsibility of the international community, to help, in whatever way possible, either by sharing details about any research conducted to tackle this disease or by funding the welfare schemes which are aimed at controlling it.