Monkeypox in humans has been ravaging the African continent since 2003 and has spread to the U.S., but it’s only recently that public health officials have started to talk about it as anything other than a footnote in the history of rare diseases. If you haven’t heard of monkeypox, you’re not alone; until recently, most Americans hadn’t either. The CDC reports that in the past year, cases of monkeypox have increased by twenty-fold—now, about 100 cases per month are being reported to the CDC, mostly in the Midwest and South of the United States of America.
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a disease that primarily spreads through close physical contact, such as skin-to-skin touch. Most cases worldwide have been found in men who have sex with men, but the virus has been known to spread to other geographies and communities. There is no cure for monkeypox, and it is thought that if it never entirely goes away, it will follow a similar path as HIV/AIDS. With the recent outbreak of COVID-19, monkeypox may become a greater concern for public health officials.
Where does monkeypox come from?
According to the CDC, monkeypox is a rare viral disease that is similar to smallpox. The Monkeypox virus is found in Africa and can spread from animal to human. The virus can also spread from person to person through close physical contact, such as skin-to-skin touch. In nearly all cases worldwide, the virus has been found among men who have sex with men. However, as aforementioned, the virus does not stay put in one geography or community.
How do you get monkeypox?
You can get monkeypox through close physical contact with an infected person, such as skin-to-skin touch. The virus can also spread through contact with contaminated bedding or clothing. In nearly all cases worldwide, the virus has been found in men who have sex with men. However, the virus can spread to other communities if it is not contained. If monkeypox is not eradicated, it is likely to follow the same path as HIV/AIDS and other viruses.
What are the symptoms of monkeypox infection?
The initial symptoms of monkeypox are similar to those of the flu, including fever, headache, muscle aches, and fatigue. A few days after these symptoms start, a rash begins to form on the face and body. The rash starts as small bumps that eventually turn into large blisters filled with fluid. The rash can spread to all parts of the body, including the inside of the mouth, throat, and nose. In some cases, monkeypox can also lead to pneumonia or swelling of the brain.
Is there a treatment for monkeypox?
The symptoms can be treated. Treatment relieves symptoms and includes rest, fluids, and fever-reducing medications. In severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary to treat complications such as pneumonia. There is a vaccine for monkeypox, and the smallpox vaccine may offer some protection. Monkeypox is similar to HIV/AIDS and COVID-19 in that it is a virus that spreads through close contact with an infected person.
Is there an effective vaccine against monkeypox?
The main challenge with developing a vaccine is that the virus mutates quickly, making it difficult to create a single vaccine that would be effective against all strains. There is currently no cure for monkeypox, but treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and supporting the immune system.
Which countries have reported cases of monkeypox infection?
Where available, genomic sequencing of viral deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is being undertaken. Several European countries (Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), Australia, Canada, Nigeria, Singapore, and the United States of America have published full-length or partial genome sequences of the monkeypox virus found in the current outbreak. While ongoing investigations, preliminary data from polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays indicate that the monkeypox virus genes detected belong to the West African clade.
Prevention tips and treatment when traveling to areas where monkeypox occurs
1. Get the monkey pox vaccine before you travel. 2. Avoid contact with animals, especially monkeys, that could be infected with the virus. 3. Avoid close contact with people who are sick or have been exposed to the virus. 4. Wash your hands often with soap and water, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. 5. If you do get sick, stay away from other people to avoid spreading the disease.
6. Get medical care as soon as possible if you think you may have monkeypox so treatment can begin. 7. Monitor yourself for fever, swollen lymph nodes in the neck or armpit area, headache, muscle aches, chills, and general discomfort for one week after exposure. 8. Take acetaminophen (Tylenol) as needed for pain relief. 9. Use a cool compress on skin lesions to reduce pain and itching, but don’t break open any blisters unless instructed by a doctor since this will increase the risk of infection. 10. Be careful not to scratch the sores, which can lead to scarring and infection.
11. Drink plenty of fluids while ill; fever decreases thirst. 12. Treat diarrhea with fluids and electrolytes because dehydration is common during illnesses like this one. 13. Seek emergency help if you develop difficulty breathing, chest pain, confusion, or severe bleeding. 14. Seek emergency help if your symptoms worsen quickly; fever lasts more than three days; itches all over and has many new areas of redness. 15. Monkeypox cannot be transmitted from person to person through casual contact, such as being near someone who has it or sitting next to them on public transportation.
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