The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued its highest level of alert for Monkeypox and declared the virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
Monkeypox is a zoonotic disease caused by the Monkeypox virus, which belongs to the same family of viruses that cause smallpox. The disease is endemic in regions such as West and Central Africa, but recently, according to the WHO, cases have also been reported from non-endemic countries.
In India, a 34-year-old man from Delhi, with no history of foreign travel, tested positive for Monkeypox on Sunday, taking the number of cases in the country to four. Earlier, three cases of Monkeypox were reported in Kerala.
What is Monkeypox ?
Monkeypox is a virus that spreads from animals to humans. Its symptoms are similar to smallpox but less severe than smallpox. There are two genetic groups of viruses – the Central African (Congo Basin) clade and the West African clade. The Congo Basin clade is thought to be more complex. Its effect is very fast.
It may take two to four weeks for Monkeypox symptoms to appear…fever, headache, rash, sore throat, cough and swollen lymph nodes. There may be sores on the body that can last for two to four weeks.
How does the Monkeypox virus spread ?
Monkeypox can be spread to humans through a person or animal that is infected with the virus. It can also be spread through material contaminated by the virus. Monkeypox can be transmitted through close contact with material such as body fluids, wounds, respiratory droplets, and bedding from an infected person.
Transmission of the virus from animal to human can occur through direct contact with blood, bodily fluids, or cutaneous or mucosal wounds of an infected animal. Animals including tree squirrels, rope squirrels, and several species of monkeys have been found to be infected with the virus.
According to the WHO, Monkeypox is not contagious like smallpox and does not cause serious illness. The incubation period of the virus, or the period from infection to onset of symptoms, ranges from 6 to 13 days. However, it can sometimes be between 5 and 21 days.
A person infected with the virus may experience fever, severe headache, back pain, myalgia (muscle pain), acute asthenia (lack of energy) and lymphadenopathy or swelling of the lymph nodes. These symptoms can last up to five days.
The skin rash usually occurs one to three days after the fever appears. Rashes are more visible on the face and body parts. In 95 percent of Monkeypox cases, the rash affects the face, while in 75 percent of the cases it affects the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet.
The rash can develop from macules or sores with a flat base to papules or slightly raised firm sores. It then develops into vesicles or sores with clear fluid and later into pustules or sores filled with yellowish fluid. The rash eventually dries up and falls off.
- To prevent transmission of the Monkeypox virus, eating inadequately cooked meat and other animal products should be avoided.
- Do not use materials such as the bedding of an infected person that may be contaminated with the virus.
- Direct contact with an infected person should be avoided.
- Physical distancing should be followed from people infected with the virus.