Monkeypox, or Mpox, is a viral disease affecting animals and humans. The condition is related to the smallpox virus. However, it has less severe symptoms than the latter. The disease was discovered in 1958 in experimental monkeys, but several rodents and primates can be carriers.
Mpox is believed to have originated in Africa, but several cases have been reported from other parts of the world. In 2003, infected rats were imported to the United States from Africa as part of an experiment. Several dogs and 47 humans were infected but fully recovered after the study. Mpox infections have been increasing drastically, with infections rising from 19 to 10000 cases across 49 states of the US between June and August last year.
Signs and Symptoms of Monkeypox
The earlier signs of monkeypox are similar to flu-like symptoms like headaches, fevers, and malaise. As the virus spreads further, lymph nodes may swell, usually preceding a rash or lesions on different body parts. The lesions may first appear on the tongues and inside the mouth and then spread to the skin within the first seven days. The lesions become pus-filled and dry out or crust by the second week, thus forming scabs. A monkeypox infection can last two to four weeks.
Suppose you suspect exposure to the disease. It is wise to isolate yourself for at least 24 hours and check your temperature twice daily. Additionally, avoid environments like massage spas and nightclubs where skin-to-skin contact may occur.
Spread and Control
Monkeypox can quickly spread between animals and humans and appears to apply faster now than before. Unlike common viruses like flu and Covid 19, monkeypox does not spread through aerosols and droplets. The disease primarily spreads through contact with infected animals, items, bedding, and surfaces. You can also acquire the virus by prolonged contact with an infected person through hugging, massaging, and kissing.
An infected person or animal can spread the disease at whatever stage of infection- from the onset of the first symptom and even after their skin heals. Pregnant women can spread the disease to their unborn kids via the placenta, while animals can infect humans by biting and scratching. You can also get the virus by preparing meat from an infected animal.
You can curb the spread of monkeypox by avoiding direct contact with infected persons and washing hands properly and frequently. Also, take extra precautions when caring for an infected person or those with disease indications.
Although there is no treatment for monkeypox, smallpox vaccinations and treatments can be effective by up to 85% since the two diseases are genetically related. Early diagnosis and treatment can significantly help curb the surge of the virus.