While when the coronavirus can spread COVID, why should the monkeypox virus stay behind? That’s true! While the monkeypox virus typically remained confined to the territories of Africa, it has now spread globally, spreading its charm since May 2022.
The WHO recently declared it a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on July 23, 2022.
“We have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly, through new modes of transmission, about which we understand too little, and which meets the criteria in the International Health Regulations,” says Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO. It is practically the first time a disease has been declared a PHEIC by Tedros without the consultation of advisors.
A PHEIC is declared once the global spread of disease carries a health risk for people across the globe.
What is the Monkeypox disease?
It is a rare viral disease caused by the monkeypox virus. The virus belongs to the family of smallpox-causing viruses, orthopoxvirus.
The disease was discovered in the year 1958. It was when a condition similar to pox occurred in a group of monkeys used for research purposes. The disease was primarily found in the animals in western and central parts of Africa. The infected animal can transmit the disease to humans through the bite or direct contact. It’s also been defined as a zoonosis disease by the WHO, i.e., the one that transmits from animals to humans.
The monkeypox outbreak was confirmed in May 2022 in the United Kingdom. The first case was detected on May 6, 2022, in an individual who traveled from Nigeria, a place where monkeypox is endemic.
“At the beginning of May I had several patients presenting with what appeared to be ulcers. We tested them for sexually transmitted infections but everything came back negative, so we knew something was wrong. Our lab reported the cases through the EpiPulse online platform (run by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) and soon afterwards we discovered that we had our first cases of monkeypox,” says Dr. Francisco Silva, General Practitioner, Lisbon, Portugal.
To date, the common belief says that it is majorly impacting the men who have sex with men (MSM), specifically the ones with more than one sexual partner. However, the disease is now spreading to children as well, in more severe forms. It is known to spread from contact with a symptomatic person.
Over 16,000 cases in just about two months of the global outbreak of the monkeypox virus! It’s been declared a “global health emergency” by the World Health Organization (WHO), as it spreads across 82 non-endemic countries.
Spain, the United States, Germany, England, and France are the ones with the most number of cases. India has reported a total of 4 patients (three in Kerala and one recently reported in Delhi).
Here is what monkeypox can make you feel like
- Flu-like symptoms, including chills and high fever
- Fatigue, muscle aches, and headache
- Development of rashes (vesicular rash,
- Inflammation of colon and rectum areas
- Swelling and pain in lymph nodes
- Swallowing problems
- Ulcers, spots, or blister-like lesions
- Perianal papules; inguinal adenopathy
- Cough and sore throat
- Difficulty in breathing
The symptoms of the infection usually manifest a week or two after the exposure.
Prevention is the Key
Prevention can save us from getting monkeypox-ed!
- Try avoiding direct contact (especially close, skin-to-skin contact) with people who seem to have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
- Avoid touching such rashes
- Avoid sharing utensils with the infected person
- Avoid coming in intimate contact in the form of a kiss, hug, or sex with the infected person
- Avoid handling the clothing, bedding, & other stuff of the infected person
- Disinfect the frequently touched points
- Use PPE when caring for the infected person
- Practice good hygiene – it is good generally and essentially in the case of such infectious diseases. Regular washing of hands & sanitizing them, wearing masks, and physical distancing shouldn’t be limited to covid.
- Vaccination for monkeypox is also recommended. Smallpox vaccine works for this; for instance, Imvanex has been seen to have 85% effectiveness against monkeypox.
- If the areas where the disease is endemic (Central & Western Africa), avoid contact with animals (rodents & primates) that can spread the virus.
- Thoroughly cook your food if you are a non-vegetarian.
- Since the disease, to some extent linked to sexual interactions, a precaution to be followed & quoting Dr. Silva here again, “I advise reducing the number of sexual partners, and, at least for the time being, avoiding sex clubs, because most of the cases I have seen – though not all – can be traced back to attending such venues.” If at all, then practice safe sex!
- Consult a doctor who may try to help with some antibiotics to avoid further infection & suggest ways to keep you hydrated.
The symptoms of monkeypox typically go with time, usually within 2-4 weeks (self-curable), and patients start feeling better without any specific treatment. However, it is always better to follow the precautions & save yourself and your close ones. Also, if found infected, isolate yourselves & try not to come in contact with others.
Stay Cautious! Stay Safe!
-Avani Raj Arora