Monkeypox is a rare viral disease that is spread from animals to humans. It can cause a rash and fever, but most people who get it recover without needing medical care.
People can get monkeypox from contact with an infected animal or person’s bodily fluids — such as blood, urine, breast milk or semen — through broken skin or mucous membranes (such as mouth and eyes). You can’t get monkeypox from sitting next to someone who has it, or by touching items that have been contaminated with fluid from an infected person.
Monkeypox doesn’t spread easily from one person to another. You can catch the virus only if you come into close contact with the infected person’s body fluids while they are still infectious; this typically happens when they are coughing or sneezing on you.
The monkeypox outbreak continues to escalate all across the globe. Public health officials emphasise the possible risks of not taking the disease seriously.
In the wake of surging cases, better information & awareness, along with proactive preventive measures, can help us curb its transmission.
Therefore, it becomes necessary to know all about monkeypox to stay safe from this rapidly spreading virus.
In today’s blog, we take a clear look at the various causes, symptoms, treatment options and prevention of monkeypox.
All About Monkeypox Virus
Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic illness first identified in humans in 1970. The virus was named after the animals it was first seen in — monkeys — but it can also infect other species of primates (including humans) as well as rodents and squirrels.
It’s similar to smallpox and characterised by fever, headache, back pain, and skin rashes. The virus belongs to the family of the variola virus, which is part of the genus Orthopoxvirus.
In humans, monkeypox causes a rash that looks like small raised bumps or blisters on the skin.
Monkeypox Virus Causes
The virus that causes monkeypox is called monkeypox virus (MPXV). It belongs to the same family as cowpox and smallpox viruses, which have been eradicated by vaccination programs worldwide.
Monkeypox is typically spread to people through contact with infected animals or contaminated items from them (such as clothing). It is not spread directly from person to person.
If someone gets monkeypox, it will most likely be due to contact with an infected person, animal or rodent such as a rabbit, squirrel, mouse, etc.
From an animal to a person, it spreads through:
- Eating the meat of an infected animal
- Direct contact with rashes or body fluids of an infected animal
- Animal scratches or bites
- Products extracted from an infected animal
People who work with animals and those who handle meat products are at a higher risk of catching this virus.
One can also get monkeypox from another person. This can happen through:
- Touching a contaminated object such as bedding, towel, blankets, sheets, clothes, or doorknob
- Sexual contact with an infected person
- Contact with body fluids, scabs, or rashes of an infected person
- Extended close contact with cough droplets of an infected person
Monkeypox virus Symptoms
When someone catches the virus, they’ll likely experience:
- Muscle aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
Some people may also encounter respiratory problems such as:
- Nasal congestion
- Sore throat
Various infected people develop a rash of blisters that can cover their entire body (even inside their mouth). The rash can emerge on any body part but most commonly appears on palms and soles.
Most people who catch the MPXV will have only mild monkeypox symptoms or no symptoms at all. Still, some people may develop serious complications such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or pneumonia (inflammation of the lungs).
Diagnosis for Monkeypox
Monkeypox is a relatively rare disease. Therefore, at first, it may look like other rash diseases such as measles, chickenpox or smallpox. Nonetheless, lymphadenopathy (lymph nodes) typically differentiates monkeypox from other pox diseases.
A doctor can diagnose by looking at your symptoms and taking a blood sample from your vein. Laboratory analysis of the blood sample will show whether or not you have antibodies to the virus. This is called a serology test.
The test shows whether you’ve had an infection before and which type it was, but it doesn’t tell the doctor what stage of the disease you have or how severe it is.
Another way of diagnosing is taking a tissue sample from an open lesion. The healthcare worker then tests it in a lab. Due to its accuracy and sensitivity, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is the most recommended laboratory test.
As of now, there is no approved/standardised monkeypox cure. This viral illness is generally self-limited and can be treated with antiviral drugs. Its symptoms usually last for a few weeks. And most people get better without any complications or long-term health problems.
As discussed earlier, there is no specific treatment for monkeypox, but the symptoms can be managed with supportive care. The treatment consists mainly of taking antiviral medications and avoiding dehydration while recovering from the illness.
Following diagnosis, a doctor will assess the patient’s condition while trying to tackle the symptoms. They might also prescribe antibiotics to treat any secondary bacterial infection.
Is Monkeypox Dangerous?
Some monkeypox cases have been fatal, but this is uncommon. However, the disease can also cause permanent scars, serious infections or blindness if untreated or not correctly managed.
It is usually mild, but it can be dire in people with weak immune systems.
As of now, there is no monkeypox vaccine available in India. One of the ways to prevent monkeypox is through vaccination against smallpox, which prevents a person from contracting both diseases.
Another practical way of avoiding the virus is to follow some preventive measures. You should also avoid close contact with other people if they have symptoms of monkeypox or have had very recent contact with someone diagnosed with it.
Your best bet for avoiding monkeypox is to avoid contact with animals that can carry the virus, such as monkeys and squirrels.
Ensure to follow these tips to prevent Virus:
- Refrain from having close contact with others
- Avoid eating undercooked meat
- Maintain appropriate hand hygiene, i.e. wash your hands with soap at regular intervals
- Isolate the infected person
- Wear a mask to cover your nose and mouth
- Avoid touching people with a rash resembling monkeypox
- Disinfect and clean commonly touched surfaces like doorknobs
- Avoid sharing sheets, blankets, towels, clothes and other objects with others
The Bottom Line
The monkeypox outbreak continues to infect thousands of people worldwide. So, for now, the best thing for you to do is keep abreast of the situation.
The treatment protocol hasn’t been backed up by much data yet, so doctors are still figuring out what’s necessary to get better. Treatments involve relieving symptoms, minimising the risk of exposure to others, and preventing the virus from spreading to others through hospital visits.
The best way to prevent monkeypox altogether is to follow the preventive measures we mentioned here. Also, visit a reputed healthcare unit if you suspect any symptoms. Amandeep Group of Hospitals offers 24/7 emergency services to handle any kind of case. In addition, we have cutting-edge facilities at our multispeciality hospitals and OPD Clinics for proper diagnosis and treatment.
So, if you are struggling with any health condition, get in touch with one of our experts today!
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