Monkeypox is a rare but potentially deadly viral disease that has recently emerged as a public health concern. The disease was first discovered in 1958 when outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in monkeys kept for research. Since then, the virus has been identified in other animals such as rodents and humans.
In recent years, there have been reports of Monkeypox outbreaks in several African countries, as well as in the United Kingdom and the United States. In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about this latest viral outbreak, from its causes and symptoms to its treatment and prevention.
What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare viral disease that belongs to the same family of viruses as smallpox, the orthopoxviruses. The virus is zoonotic, which means it is transmitted to humans from animals. The natural hosts of the virus are small mammals such as rodents and monkeys, which are often used in laboratory research.
The disease was first identified in 1958 when outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in monkeys kept for research. The virus was subsequently isolated from a human patient in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since then, the disease has been reported in other African countries such as Cameroon, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Sudan, as well as in the United Kingdom and the United States.
How is Monkeypox transmitted?
The virus is transmitted to humans through direct contact with infected animals, such as monkeys and rodents, or through contact with contaminated material such as bedding or clothing. The disease can also be transmitted from person to person through respiratory droplets or close contact with infected individuals.
What are the symptoms of Monkeypox?
The symptoms of Monkeypox are similar to those of smallpox, but generally milder. The disease typically begins with a fever, headache, muscle aches, and fatigue, followed by the development of a rash. The rash usually starts on the face and then spreads to other parts of the body.
The rash goes through different stages, beginning as small, raised bumps that progress to fluid-filled blisters and then to pustules. The lesions eventually form a scab and fall off. The disease usually lasts 2-4 weeks, with complete recovery taking several weeks.
How is Monkeypox diagnosed?
Diagnosis of Monkeypox is made through laboratory tests, which can detect the presence of the virus in blood, skin lesions, or other bodily fluids.
What is the treatment for Monkeypox?
There is no specific treatment for Monkeypox, but supportive care can help relieve symptoms and prevent complications. Antiviral drugs such as cidofovir and smallpox vaccine have been used to treat severe cases.
How can Monkeypox be prevented?
Prevention of Monkeypox involves avoiding contact with infected animals or their products, such as meat or hides. Individuals at high risk of exposure
Individuals at high risk of exposure, such as laboratory workers and animal handlers, should take precautions to prevent infection, including wearing gloves, gowns, and masks, and practicing good hand hygiene.
There is also a vaccine for Monkeypox that has been shown to be effective in preventing the disease in laboratory animals and humans. However, the vaccine is not widely available and is currently only recommended for individuals at high risk of exposure.
Monkeypox outbreaks around the world
Since the discovery of Monkeypox in 1958, there have been several outbreaks of the disease in various parts of the world. The most recent outbreaks have occurred in Nigeria, where over 100 cases were reported in 2017, and in the United Kingdom, where three cases were reported in 2018.
In the United States, there have been several isolated cases of Monkeypox reported over the past few decades. The most recent case was reported in September 2021 in Texas, in an individual who had traveled from Nigeria.
Monkeypox vs. Smallpox
Monkeypox and smallpox are both viral diseases caused by orthopoxviruses, but they differ in their severity and mortality rates. Smallpox is a more severe disease that has a higher mortality rate than Monkeypox.
Smallpox was eradicated worldwide in 1980 through a global vaccination campaign, and the smallpox vaccine is no longer routinely given. However, the vaccine is still kept in reserve for use in the event of a bioterrorism attack or an outbreak of the disease.
The future of Monkeypox research
Research on Monkeypox is ongoing, with the aim of developing better treatments and prevention strategies for the disease. Scientists are also studying the virus to gain a better understanding of its transmission, pathogenesis, and evolution.
In recent years, there has been increasing interest in the use of Monkeypox virus as a vector for vaccine development. This involves using the virus as a delivery system for other vaccines, such as those for HIV and malaria.
Monkeypox is a rare but potentially serious viral disease that can be transmitted to humans from animals. The disease typically causes a fever and a rash, but can also lead to more severe symptoms and complications. Prevention of Monkeypox involves avoiding contact with infected animals or their products and taking appropriate precautions when handling animals.
Although Monkeypox is a rare disease, it is important to remain vigilant and take appropriate precautions to prevent infection. With ongoing research and development, we can continue to improve our understanding and management of this latest viral outbreak.
Can you get Monkeypox more than once?
It is believed that immunity to Monkeypox is long-lasting, and individuals who have had the disease are unlikely to get it again.
How long does it take for symptoms to appear after exposure to Monkeypox?
The incubation period for Monkeypox is usually between 5 and 14 days, but can range from 1 to 21 days.
Can Monkeypox be transmitted from person to person?
Yes, Monkeypox can be transmitted from person to person through respiratory droplets or close contact with infected individuals.
Is there a vaccine for Monkeypox?
Yes, there is a vaccine for Monkeypox that has been shown to be effective in preventing the disease in laboratory animals and humans. However, the vaccine is not widely available and is currently only recommended for individuals at high risk of exposure.
What should I do if I think I have been exposed to Monkeypox?
If you think you have been exposed to Monkeypox, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Your healthcare provider can evaluate your symptoms and perform tests to confirm or rule out the diagnosis.
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- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Monkeypox. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/index.html
- World Health Organization. (2021). Monkeypox. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/monkeypox
- National Institutes of Health. (2018). Monkeypox. Retrieved from https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/monkeypox
- Leung, A., & Yee, J. (2019). Monkeypox: epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment. Current Infectious Disease Reports, 21(3), 1-8.
- Parker, S., Buller, R., & Aoki, K. (2014). Using monkeypox virus as a vector for vaccination. Expert Review of Vaccines, 13(4), 471-479.