As the world was taking a break and recovering from the Coronavirus pandemic crisis, the monkeypox outbreak served us another blow.
Suppose you religiously watch the news or keep yourself updated with global information; you know about 16,000 monkeypox cases in over 75 countries have been recorded worldwide in 2022.
These alarming numbers have made The World Health Organization(WHO) consider monkeypox a global emergency. However, there is a debate going on about whether it’s a global pandemic or not.
This article will cover in-depth all the essential information you need about monkeypox disease and how to protect yourself against it.
What Is Monkeypox?
According to WHO’S Dr. Rosamund Lewis, who appeared in a recent interview. She states, “monkeypox is not a new disease.”
Monkeypox is a scarce endemic disease caused by the monkeypox virus. The virus is of the same family as the variola virus responsible for smallpox infections. According to Wikipedia, monkeypox is part of the orthopoxvirus genus in the family of poxviridae.
It’s also a zoonotic disease because it’s transmissible from animals to humans and vice versa.
The monkeypox appearance is very similar to that of smallpox, characterized by a rash or rashes that starts flat. Then it proceeds to be fluid filled before they crust over. These rashes can appear on any part of your body. You can also spot them on your face, hands, throat, groin, and genital areas.
As much as the clinical representation of monkeypox is similar to that of smallpox, monkeypox is a milder disease. It is also less contagious and less fatal.
It mainly affects the rainforest areas, specifically Central and West Africa. However, recently there have been reported cases in countries that had never experienced the disease. These countries include The United States of America and Canada.
The 2022 monkeypox outbreak may have found its way from West Africa. Luckily, the West African clade is much milder than the Central African type, that is more harmful.
The notorious animal host of monkeypox are rodents such as squirrels, Gambian pouched rats, primates, and dormice.
Monkeypox discovery was in a colony of research monkeys in 1958. Later on, in 1970, the first human case was recorded. We are now experiencing the latest outbreak in 2022.
Contrary to its name, monkeypox’s origin is not known. The name monkeypox came in because the first discovery was from research monkeys.
The following are symptoms of monkeypox:
- Having chills and fever.
- Having a headache.
- Having aching muscles.
- Experiencing fatigue.
- Having back pains.
- Presence of swollen lymph nodes.
- There’s the presence of a rash that later turns into a liquid-filled lesion before finally crusting over.
The symptoms are mainly similar to that of the common cold, but you can clearly distinguish monkeypox symptoms by the presence of swollen lymph nodes.
Symptoms can take about 2 to 3 weeks to clear. However, individuals can keep infecting others until the lesions have completely healed and a new layer of skin unveils.
How Is Monkeypox Spread?
There are several ways that monkeypox is transmitted. Below are some of the ways:
- By having direct contact with infected persons.
You can get infected if you come into contact with an infected person’s scrapes or scabs. You can also get monkeypox by contacting an infected person’s body liquids. That can happen during physical intimacy or when providing homecare for infected persons. The virus also spreads by contacting infected respiratory droplets when talking, sneezing, or coughing nearby.
- People can contact the disease by touching contaminated surfaces and objects.
There’s a risk of infection when handling exposed personal items such as beddings or used objects without wearing protective gear. Mostly, caregivers of infected persons or people living under the same roof as the infected person must adhere to the protective gear rule.
- Pregnant women can infect their unborn babies, and lactating mothers can infect their breastfeeding babies.
Research reveals that both pregnant and breastfeeding mothers who are infected risk infecting their babies too. In such cases, women must seek medical support to ensure their young ones aren’t affected.
- Transmission from animals to humans.
There are chances of human infection if they eat meat not well cooked by an infected animal. They could also get infected by coming into contact with the body fluids of an infected animal, either dead or alive. Individuals who work with animals must take extra precautions when handling animal hosts, especially during an outbreak, to ensure their safety and community safety.
Who Can Get A Monkeypox Infection?
Anyone can contract the monkeypox virus regardless of age, gender, race, and social status. But pregnant women, children, and individuals with low immunity risk contracting the disease.
During the 2017 outbreak, Dr. Ogoina and his colleagues in Nigeria discovered how monkeypox transmission had evolved.
They had to investigate their patients further. “We decided to do a sexual history assessment of some of the cases,” he says. That assessment found many patients had high-risk sexual behaviors, including multiple partners and sex with prostitutes.
That said, nobody is susceptible to the disease. Thus, nobody should stigmatize people who have monkeypox infections. We should support those infected and offer all the help they need to recover fully.
Unfortunately, monkeypox has no specific known cure.
Antiviral drugs such as tecovirimat, previously used to treat smallpox, are now also being used to manage monkeypox in individuals with a low immune system. However, there’s little data on how effective these drugs are in treating monkeypox.
Most of the time, you treat and manage the symptoms. Therefore, most painkillers and fever medication can make one feel better.
Other ways to manage the disease include staying hydrated, having enough balanced diet, resting well, and keeping the lesions clean.
Luckily, monkeypox is a self-limiting disease that most cases eventually resolve independently.
Several home remedies make the disease tolerable such as:
- Consuming ibuprofen to manage pain and fever.
- Take warm baths to relieve yourself of itching.
Please consult your health provider before indulging yourself with home remedies. You could do yourself more harm than good if you skip consultation because not everything works the same for everyone.
Do We Have The Monkeypox Vaccine?
The Food and Drugs Federation (FDA) has approved two vaccines against monkeypox disease in the United States. The two vaccines are JYNNEOS (also known as Imvamune or Imvanex) and ACAM2000. Unfortunately, the vaccines are limited, although restock is expected soon.
A fully vaccinated individual receives two shots of the vaccine against monkeypox. That is approximately two weeks after their second dose.
One disadvantage of these vaccines is that experts aren’t sure of the vaccine’s effectiveness. Also, people with underlying health issues can’t be vaccinated.
Another disadvantage of these two vaccines is that no data is available to guarantee these vaccines’ effectiveness.
The smallpox vaccine is also considered an option, especially for people with low immunity against monkeypox, as their medical practitioner recommends.
Monkeypox Preventive Measures
You can prevent yourself and your loved ones from contacting monkeypox by observing the following preventive measures:
- Wearing masks and protective gear when handling infected animals.
- Cooking meat properly.
- People should limit close contact with people infected with the disease.
- Avoid handling beddings or personal items of infected individuals.
- Frequent washing of hands with water and soap and sanitizing.
- Cleaning surfaces that got exposed to the virus with disinfectants.
- Infected individuals should isolate themselves.
- Infected persons should maintain high hygiene standards if they have scrapes on their bodies. You can do so by keeping them clean and covering them with clean clothe to avoid infecting others.
- Persons with compromised immune systems should consider getting vaccinated with the smallpox vaccine that helps to boost resistance against monkeypox.
Other than taking personal initiative to prevent the spread of monkeypox, our governments also must restrict movement and animal trade when there’s an outbreak to prevent infections from spreading from one country to another.
Recent research has revealed that the disease has found itself in countries that didn’t have it before due to travel.
As much as the monkeypox disease doesn’t have a high fatal rate, there are possibilities of it causing permanent damage to you. You could get scarring from the rashes after the crust. You could contract pneumonia or get respiratory problems. There are also possibilities of getting eye infections that could lead you to lose your sight.
Taking charge of your health and observing all the prevention measures provided is better for avoiding complications. Didn’t they say,” Prevention is better than cure?”
As medical researchers do their best to come up with cures and vaccines, let us uphold our part of supporting them in all ways we can.
Q: Should I be worried about monkeypox?
A: Yes, you should be worried about monkeypox because it spreads globally. Therefore, invoking a sense of health emergency.
Monkeypox is a contagious disease; anyone can be infected regardless of age, gender or race.
Q: How do I get tested for monkeypox?
A: You can have a test done at a healthcare facility near you. Or you can check with your country’s health information center to confirm where testing is available just in case there are designated health facilities for testing.
Q: Can I be vaccinated against monkeypox?
A: Yes, you can. There are two approved vaccines for protection against monkeypox. Although the supply of monkeypox vaccine remains limited. You can be vaccinated pre-exposed or post-exposed. You can access the vaccines from Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).
Q: Is monkeypox fatal?
A: There’s a meager rate of fatal cases recorded. Monkeypox is generally a mild disease compared to smallpox, thus lowering the chances of deadly issues.
Q: Is monkeypox curable?
A: There’s no known cure for monkeypox yet. Although, a treatment previously used to cure smallpox could work.
Q: Who is at risk of monkeypox?
A: Anyone is at risk of contracting monkeypox disease. However, pregnant women and children are at a higher risk of getting infected by individuals whose immunity is compromised.
The recent outbreak has also revealed new data on gay men at higher risk of infection.
Q: What should I do if I have monkeypox symptoms?
A: If you have monkeypox symptoms, kindly visit the nearest healthcare facility to consult a professional for diagnosis and treatment plans. It’ll also be great if you isolate yourself to protect others around you and curb the spread.
Q: How can I protect myself?
A: You can protect yourself by avoiding crowded places and close personal contact with infected individuals. Wear your mask when outside, especially if you’re living in a country with an outbreak.
I know it’s overwhelming to come out of a pandemic and jump right into another health crisis threatening to be a global issue. But if we learnt anything from all the previous health crises, we must be responsible and take personal initiative. That’s the first and sure way of having a fighting chance.
Take charge of your health by keeping yourself updated with information regarding the spread of this disease.
Thanks to the internet, you can get credible and reliable information from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sites in the comfort of your home.
By doing so, you’ll be able to make informed choices on matters concerning your health during the outbreak.
We can all decide to stay safe and hope to create a ripple effect that will eradicate the monkeypox outbreak or curb its spread.
We review published medical research in respected scientific journals to arrive at our conclusions about a product or health topic. This ensures the highest standard of scientific accuracy. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/media/131078/download  Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/media/131078/download  Anna M. Likos|Scott A. Sammons|Victoria A. Olson|A. Michael Frace|Yu Li|Melissa Olsen-Rasmussen|Whitni Davidson|Renee Galloway|Marina L. Khristova|Mary G. Reynolds|Hui Zhao|Darin S. Carroll|Aaron Curns|Pierre Formenty|Joseph J. Esposito|Russell L. Regnery|Inger K. Damon. (2005, October 1). A tale of two clades: Monkeypox viruses. Retrieved from https://www.microbiologyresearch.org/content/journal/jgv/10.1099/vir.0.81215-0  Monkeypox cases confirmed in England – latest updates. (2022, May 14). Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/government/news/monkeypox-cases-confirmed-in-england-latest-updates  Monkeypox in the U.S. (2022, July 15). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/treatment.html  Monkeypox. (2022, May 19). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/monkeypox  Monkeypox. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22371-monkeypox  The 2017 human monkeypox outbreak in Nigeria—Report of outbreak experience and response in the Niger delta University teaching hospital, Bayelsa state, Nigeria. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6469755/#pone.0214229.ref007  Retrieved from https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/C1676_National-Infection-Prevention-and-Control-IPC-Manual-for-England-version-21_July-2022.pdf  Episode #73 - Monkeypox. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/media-resources/science-in-5/monkeypox?gclid=CjwKCAjw3K2XBhAzEiwAmmgrAo9vueGrp9b5qThlwsBJVL2muxV1l8pSvBH-weAUdMqPXJVjAiG-TBoC22EQAvD_BwE  Just a moment... (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/case-fatality-rate