No Monkey Business: All You Need To Know About Monkeypox
COVID's almost gone, almost! But even before we could take a breather, there's a new virus on the block. Meet Monkeypox!
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the spread of monkeypox infection a public health emergency. What is the disease? How is it spreading? What can one do to protect themselves against monkeypox? To get answers to these questions, read on...
What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a zoonotic viral disease, a virus that spreads from animals to humans. It is caused by the monkeypox virus that belongs to the orthopoxvirus genus of the Poxviridae family. It has noted similarities to the smallpox virus.
The first monkeypox infection was discovered in 1958 in a colony of monkeys kept for a research study. The first case in humans was identified in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1970. Until August 15th, 2022, India reported over ten cases of monkeypox infection, while the world has over 32,000 patients in 80 countries.
How does it spread?
Monkeypox spreads via close contact, such as face to face, skin to skin, or sexual contact. It can also spread through environmental factors such as respiratory droplets, short-range aerosols, and contaminated surfaces when an infectious person touches clothing, towels, objects, electronics, or surfaces. It also affects children if they have contact with infected people.
What are the symptoms of Monkeypox infection?
The infection is characterised by symptoms such as:
Swollen lymph nodes
Chills and Exhaustion
Rashes on the face, palms, eyes, throat, and genital regions. The rashes look like pimples or blisters.
The illness lasts for around 2-4 weeks, and the chances of fatality are between 1-10%. If you have observed any of these symptoms on or around you, it is worth getting yourself checked.
What is the treatment?
There is no specific treatment for monkeypox virus infection, and that is the scary part. However, it is observed that monkeypox and smallpox viruses are genetically similar. Hence, for treatment, antiviral drugs such as tecovirimat (TPOXX) are used against smallpox. The smallpox vaccine may also be used to prevent and treat monkeypox virus infections.
How can I protect myself from getting it?
You can take several measures to protect yourself against the monkeypox virus infection:
Limit close contact with people who are suspected or confirmed to have monkeypox infection.
Clean and disinfect environments that could have been contaminated with the virus.
Regularly wash your hands with soap or alcohol-based sanitisers.
Keep yourself informed about the monkeypox situation in your area. Also, remember to have open conversations with your sexual partners about any symptoms you or they may have.
If you test positive for monkeypox infection, then isolate yourself until fully recovered and use separate utensils and bathroom to prevent the spread.
People remain infectious until all the lesions are crusted over, the scabs have fallen off, and a new layer of skin has formed underneath. So follow all the measures until you're sure that you're safe.
Now that we know that it is probably the best time to take good care of yourself and protect yourself and your loved ones.
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