Monkeypox: what we know so far

JESSICA MAWU-KOENYA BANSAH

Following the current epidemic, we have increased our awareness of new and emerging illnesses. Therefore, when the monkeypox outbreak started, we were watching to see if it would spread similarly to the COVID-19. This article will inform us about the most recent developments in the study of monkeypox.

History of monkeypox and relation to smallpox

For many years, monkeypox was mostly observed in Africa. A 9-month-old kid in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the other five children—three of whom were playmates—were unvaccinated against then-lethal smallpox when the first instance of monkeypox was identified in the 1970s. Since monkeypox was not easily spread from person to person, it received little attention. However, from 1981 to 1986, it resurfaced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as a result of interaction with infected animals. In 1996, the illness reemerged, but unlike earlier outbreaks when it went from animal to human, this time it spread from human to human.

Monkeypox has since spread over West and Central Africa, with outbreaks also being reported in other nations.

The first incidence of monkeypox in the US was reported in May 2003. Reportedly, they imported some rats from Ghana that were infected with the virus. The imported prairie dogs were then exposed to it. By the end of June 2003, 71 cases of the illness among persons who had come into touch with such pets had been documented. No fatalities were reported.

A monkeypox outbreak was seen in 2017–2018 in the south and east of Nigeria. Then, in 2018, it made its way to the UK after a guy with the virus from Nigeria came there. Searches were conducted on anyone who had direct touch with him, and as of 2019, 4 cases have been reported. Since that time, visitors to Nigeria have brought the virus to other nations, including Singapore and the US.

A monkeypox epidemic with cases beginning in the UK was reported in May 2022. Even though there had previously been a few instances dispersed over Europe in the preceding months, the UK announced its first case in a traveler from Nigeria.

Cases began to be reported starting on May 18 from an expanding number of nations and locations, primarily in Europe but also in North and South America, Asia, Africa, and Australia. 4,126 confirmed cases have been reported overall as of June 24.

After being exposed to the virus for a week or two, monkeypox develops. It results in fever and a rash that blisters and takes a week to recover. Despite claims that monkeypox is a self-limiting illness that goes away on its own, some sufferers who did not obtain treatment have succumbed to the infection. The smallpox virus, which was eliminated some time ago, is related to monkeypox. Thus, children who missed out on the smallpox pandemic vaccination are more prone to experience severe symptoms. This is due to the fact that vaccination for smallpox provides some protection against monkeypox.

Causes of monkeypox

The virus that causes monkeypox is similar to smallpox, which is now completely extinct and has been linked to other viruses. Both belong to the Poxviridae family, specifically the genus Orthopoxvirus.

How it spreads

Direct contact with the blood, body fluids, skin, or mucous wounds of infected animals can result in animal-to-human (zoonotic) transfer. Numerous animals in Africa, including rope squirrels, tree squirrels, Gambian poached rats, dormice, various kinds of monkeys, and others, have shown signs of monkeypox virus infection. Although rodents are most likely, the natural monkeypox reservoir has not yet been found. Eating undercooked meat and other diseased animal products is a potential risk factor. People who live in or close to forests may be indirectly or indirectly exposed to sick animals.

Close contact with respiratory secretions, skin sores on an infected person, or recently contaminated objects can cause human-to-human transmission. Health professionals, family members, and other close contacts of active cases are more at risk because droplet respiratory particles often need extended face-to-face contact. The number of person-to-person infections in a community's longest recorded chain of transmission has increased from 6 to 9 in recent years. Due to the end of the smallpox vaccination program, this may represent a decline in immunity across all societies. Congenital monkeypox(from mother to child) can result through transmission through the placenta, which can also happen during intimate contact during labor and after delivery.

Symptoms of monkeypox

Fever can spread from person to person while in close proximity. Headache, back pain, muscle pains, enlarged lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion are some common symptoms of monkeypox disease.

Usually, a rash that resembles pimples or blisters forms on the face, the inside of the mouth, the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or the anus. Before fully healing, the rash passes through several phases. Usually, the disease lasts two to four weeks.

Sometimes the rash appears first, then the accompanying symptoms. Some people merely get a rash. It is still unknown if monkeypox may particularly be transferred through sexual transmission methods, despite the fact that intimate physical contact is a well-known risk factor for transmission. Studies are required to comprehend this danger better.

Treatment

Monkeypox virus infections do not have a particular therapy. However, due to the genetic similarity between the monkeypox and smallpox viruses, antiviral medications and vaccinations created to guard against smallpox may also be used to treat and prevent infections with the monkeypox virus.

Even if you don't believe you have had contact with someone who has monkeypox, you should still consult your doctor if you experience any monkeypox symptoms.

References

1. WHO. Monkeypox. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/monkeypox

2. Centre for Disease Control. Monkeypox. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/index.html

Health

JESSICA MAWU-KOENYA BANSAH

A young lady who is excited to influence the society and world with the knowledge she has acquired.