Monkeypox is a rare disease similar to smallpox caused by the monkeypox virus. It’s found mostly in areas of Africa but has been seen in other areas of the world. It causes flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills, and a rash that can take weeks to clear.

Transmission

  • Animal-to-human (zoonotic) transmission can occur from direct contact with the blood, bodily fluids, or cutaneous or mucosal lesions of infected animals.
  • Eating inadequately cooked meat and other animal products of infected animals is a possible risk factor. People living in or near forested areas may have indirect or low-level exposure to infected animals.
  • Human-to-human transmission can result from close contact with respiratory secretions, skin lesions of an infected person or recently contaminated objects.
  • Transmission via droplet respiratory particles usually requires prolonged face-to-face contact, which puts health workers, household members and other close contacts of active cases at greater risk.

Signs and symptoms

The incubation period (interval from infection to onset of symptoms) of monkeypox is usually from 6 to 13 days but can range from 5 to 21 days.

The infection can be divided into two periods:

  • The invasion period (lasts between 0–5 days) characterized by fever, intense headache, lymphadenopathy (swelling of the lymph nodes), back pain, myalgia (muscle aches) and intense asthenia (lack of energy).
  • The skin eruption usually begins within 1–3 days of appearance of fever. The rash tends to be more concentrated on the face and extremities rather than on the trunk. It affects the face (in 95% of cases), and palms of the hands and soles of the feet (in 75% of cases).
  • The rash evolves sequentially from macules (lesions with a flat base) to papules (slightly raised firm lesions), vesicles (lesions filled with clear fluid), pustules (lesions filled with yellowish fluid), and crusts which dry up and fall off. The number of lesions varies from a few to several thousand.

How do you prevent monkeypox virus?

A smallpox vaccine provides protection against monkeypox, but its use is currently limited to clinical trials. The best way to help prevent spread the monkeypox virus is to:

  • Avoid contact with infected animals (especially sick or dead animals).
  • Avoid contact with bedding and other materials contaminated with the virus.
  • Thoroughly cook all foods that contain animal meat or parts.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Avoid contact with people who may be infected with the virus.
  • Practice safe sex, including the use of condoms and dental dams.
  • Wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose when around others.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Use personal protective equipment (PPE) when caring for people infected with the virus.

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