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After the recent scare of Covid-19, Monkeypox, a rare viral infection, is another virus that is causing an alarming situation for people across the globe. With more than 17,000 people already being affected in 74 nations globally, Monkeypox created such havoc that WHO declared a global health emergency with the highest alarm for Monkeypox.
India so far has reported 8 cases of Monkeypox with the national capital reporting its third case on 2nd August. Kerala reported its fifth case after a person who returned from UAE tested positive. The Union Health Ministry has formed a National Task Force to deal with the situation and monitor the diagnostics and vaccines for the virus. Five of the eight cases confirmed in India are said to have international travel history of the patients.
The Monkeypox virus was first discovered in 1958 when pox-like diseases were detected in colonies of monkeys kept for research, hence the name Monkeypox. Since 1970, human cases of Monkeypox have been detected in 11 African countries.
International travel and imported articles have been the key cause of the spread of the Monkeypox virus outside Africa since then.
Monkeypox is an infection that was caused by monkeypox virus, which is a member of the Orthopoxvirus genus that also includes Variola virus which causes smallpox. Monkeypox is a zoonosis or a disease that gets transmitted from an infected animal to humans.
The virus is easily transmitted to humans if they come in close contact with someone who is infected with the virus including people, animals etc. Things like body fluids and lesions are considered to be the main mode of human-to-human transmission of the virus. It can also be transmitted through respiratory droplets as well as contaminated articles. The symptoms of Monkeypox usually last from 2 to 4 weeks with a fatality ratio being around 3–6% as seen in recent times.
According to the World Health Organization, the cases occurred close to the tropical rainforest which is inhabited by animals that are carrying the virus. The infection was mostly carried by some species of Monkeys, squirrels, dormice, Gambian pouched rats etc. in the African rainforests. The virus has become a cause of concern lately as it is spreading among humans across the globe.
Monkeypox has symptoms that are quite similar to smallpox. Congo has been reported as the worst affected country so far with the highest number of Monkeypox cases. The incubation period of the virus normally ranges from 7-14 days, but it can range over 5 to 21 days as well. The virus starts showing symptoms within this period. The symptoms of Monkeypox are lighter than smallpox. Below are some symptoms of Monkeypox Virus:
These symptoms are followed by skin rashes on the face and other parts of the body. The virus lasts for a period of two to four weeks. Complications of the disease include pneumonia, eye problems, skin infections, confusion, etc.
Two traces of Monkeypox virus have been detected so far, namely, the Congo strain and the West African strain. While the first one is more fatal with a mortality rate of 10%, the mortality rate of the West African strain is just 1%.
If humans get bitten by an animal infected by Monkeypox virus or they come in close touch with the body fluids or fur of the infected animal, they might contact Monkeypox. Consumption of meat that is not cooked properly of an infected and diseased animal can also cause the infection to spread among humans.
Other sources of Monkeypox virus getting transmitted among humans are through contaminated clothing, bedding, towels and so on. Droplets of cough and sneeze of an infected person to another also can transmit the disease to people. Besides, the virus can also transmit sexually.
As per the guidelines issued by the Central government, the Monkeypox virus can also transmit through respiratory droplets of large volume, however that would require close contact for a prolonged period.
In most parts of the world, where there are better healthcare facilities available, most patients with symptoms of Monkeypox have recovered within 2-4 weeks. However, reports state that in regions of central Africa where there are inadequate facilities of healthcare, 1 in 10 people with the disease have died due to the virus.
No specific treatment has been discovered for Monkeypox virus as yet. The best way to deal with the disease is to stay isolated and get good treatment in hospital so that it doesn’t spread further and the disease gets cured soon. Also, smallpox vaccines have proved effective and are used in the US to cure Monkeypox patients.
The CDC or the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has advised people to stay away from animals infected with Monkeypox virus. If you get in close touch with substances contaminated by the virus, it might also prove dangerous. The best measure is to isolate oneself if you get infected with the virus.
Like in Covid-19 cases, here too it is important to keep washing hands properly with soap to avoid spread of the disease. It is also recommended to wear a PPE kit for health workers who are treating patients that are infected with Monkeypox virus.
‘Public health emergency of International concern’ has been declared for Monkeypox by the WHO on 23rd July 2022. The virus has already infected over 17,000 people across 75 nations globally.
Further, an average of over 500 cases have been reported daily of Monkeypox in the global scenario, which is making it scary.
Below is the nation-wise data of Monkeypox cases globally:
|United States||2,316 Cases|
|United Kingdom||2,142 Cases|
People who have been immunized with the smallpox vaccine in the past are said to be somewhat safe from the Monkeypox virus as this vaccine allows long lasting immunity against Monkeypox. Thus, Americans are already using this vaccine to safeguard people from Monkeypox virus.
So, it is better to stay safe and protected. If you experience any symptom of the disease, get yourself tested and stay isolated. People who have comprehensive health insurance policies can seek hospital facilities to cure the disease without worrying about the bills. Thus, it is advised to buy an all-inclusive health insurance plan to safeguard you and your family against any such outbreaks and pandemics.
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The first signs of Monkeypox following the incubation period include symptoms like:
# Swollen lymph nodes,
# Exhaustion, and
# Body aches etc.
Since the start of January 2022, cases of Monkeypox have been reported to WHO from different regions of America, Africa, Europe, Eastern Mediterranean, and Western Pacific. India recently witnessed the fourth case of Monkeypox in New Delhi in July.
If a person is infected with monkeypox, he/she can transfer the virus to another person by various means such as:
# Respiratory droplets (in case of face-to-face contact).
# Close physical contact (sexual intercourse)
# If someone touches the infected person directly
# Through body fluids of an infected person etc.
India has reported a total of 4 cases of Monkeypox till date including 1 recent case in Delhi and three cases in Kerala reported earlier. All the patients are under observation of doctors.
No treatment as such is available for monkeypox as of now to specifically target the virus. However, since there is similarity between monkeypox and smallpox, the vaccination used for the treatment of smallpox may be effective and is being used in many parts of the world for treating monkeypox.
The best way to deal with the disease is to stay isolated and get treatment in hospital or home and avoid the spread of the virus further.
To avoid getting affected by the monkeypox virus, it is better to avoid skin-to-skin contact and physical intimacy with anyone who has a similar kind of rash to that of monkeypox. Also, avoid touching bedding, clothing, or other materials that are being used by a person affected by monkeypox. Further, keep washing your hands frequently with soap and water.
Monkeypox is an infection that is caused by monkeypox virus, which is a member of the Orthopoxvirus genus that also includes Variola virus which causes smallpox. Thus, monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as smallpox with similar but mild symptoms. However, monkeypox is not often fatal and is not related to chickenpox.
Yes, social distancing and masks are good ways to avoid the monkeypox virus from spreading.
As the monkeypox cases rise globally, India has started discussions with manufacturers of vaccines for developing monkeypox vaccine and diagnostic kits.
In the global scenario, the United States has released two vaccines that are likely to prevent monkeypox, namely JYNNEOS and ACAM2000 which are being used for monkeypox currently.
Monkeypox causes flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills along with rash that may take weeks to clear. There is no proven home remedy to cure monkeypox. However, when getting treatment at home, the patient can observe self-isolation in a ventilated room and use paracetamol for fever and pain. Also, try to maintain good hydration, and apply something soothing on skin lesions.
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