There is not much we know about Monkeypox so far, but the infection is already causing panic worldwide among humans who are still enduring the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic . The infection is sporadic, and you don’t get to hear of it every day, month, or year. Therefore, when the first case was detected in the United Kingdom a few weeks ago, medics, health organizations, and governments issued alerts to the general public urging them to protect themselves.
To some relief, The World Health Organization’s top monkeypox expert said she doesn’t expect the hundreds of cases reported to turn into another pandemic but called for vigilance due to the infection’s many unknowns, including its spreading rate.
Symptoms & Transmission
The viral infection occurs in both humans and animals. It spreads from person to person through close contact such as touching clothing or the bedding of human beings. People can also catch the infection from infected animals by getting bitten or scratched by them, eating them, touching their body fluids, or any object they have contaminated.
The infection manifests a week or two after exposure with fever and a few other nonspecific symptoms. The symptoms include fever, headaches, muscle aches, backache, swollen glands, chills, and feeling tired. Usually, there are swollen lymph nodes around the ears, jaws, and neck. A rash also appears, forming blisters around the mouth, face, and genitals.
Monkeypox was first identified in 1958 in laboratory monkeys, and the first human case was not until 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The United States recorded an outbreak in 2003 where 47 people were confirmed to have caught monkeypox. WHO team reported 338 confirmed cases and 33 deaths in DRC between 1981 and 1986. Data on monkeypox has often been incomplete and unconfirmed, which has hindered accurate reporting of the number of cases globally.
While currently there is no monkeypox vaccine, vaccination against smallpox which is closely related to monkeypox, has been shown to protect people against infections. According to data from Prevention Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the smallpox vaccine could prevent the onset of monkeypox if administered within four days of exposure.
According to CDC, there are a number of measures that can be taken to prevent infection with the monkeypox virus, which include:
- Avoid contact with animals that could harbor the virus (including animals that are sick or that have been found dead in areas where monkeypox occurs).
- Avoid contact with any materials, such as bedding, that have been in contact with a sick animal.
- Isolate infected patients from others who could be at risk for infection.
- Practice good hand hygiene after contact with infected animals or humans. For example, washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.