What is Monkeypox and How to Protect Yourself from the Virus

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus. It was first identified in 1958 from a white-tailed monkey in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It resembles smallpox, which is caused by the variola virus, but the two diseases have different mechanisms of infection. In humans, the disease can range from mild to serious and while there is no specific treatment or vaccine, most patients recover without any serious health consequences.

A recent study published in the medical journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases reported an outbreak of monkeypox in Nigeria in September 2017. Although the number of cases was limited, the virus has been detected in several other countries, including the US, UK and Congo. In response, public health experts are advising people to be aware of the risk of contracting the virus and how to protect themselves from infection.

What are the Symptoms of Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare, virally transmitted disease that usually begins with fever, headache and muscle aches. After several days, a rash appears on the face, hands and feet. The rash typically progresses to deeper skin lesions called vesicles and pustules. These blister-like lesions may spread to the limbs, trunk and other internal organs. In some cases, these lesions may be severe and cause pain and swelling.

Other potential symptoms of monkeypox include fatigue, chills, unusual tiredness and swollen lymph nodes. In severe cases, the virus may cause complications such as pneumonia, meningoencephalitis or sepsis.

How is Monkeypox Transmitted?

Monkeypox is typically spread through direct contact with the saliva, blood, skin or bodily fluids of an infected animal, such as a monkey, rodent or squirrel. People can also become infected if they are in close contact with someone who has the virus.

In recent years, the virus has spread from animals to humans in areas where there is close contact between the two. This can occur as a result of deforestation or infrastructure development which bring humans and animals into closer contact than normal.

How Can People Protect Themselves from Monkeypox?

The best way to protect yourself from monkeypox is to avoid contact with animals that may carry the virus. This includes wild rodents, squirrels and monkeys, as well as any other wild animals that may be infected.

It is also important to practice good hygiene, including washing hands regularly with soap and water. People should also avoid coming into contact with people who are symptomatically ill and avoid sharing any food or utensils with people who may have the virus.

When travelling, it’s important to take basic precautions to reduce the chances of acquiring monkeypox or any other infectious disease. This includes avoiding contact with any wild animals and sticking to cooked and prepared foods.

Vaccines and Treatment

Currently, there is no licensed vaccine available for monkeypox, although researchers are developing a vaccine to help protect against the disease. Antibiotics may be used to treat secondary bacterial infections caused by the disease, but there is no specific antiviral treatment for monkeypox.

However, for persons who are infected, there are ways to reduce symptoms and increase the chances of recovery. This includes getting plenty of rest, drinking fluids to stay hydrated and taking over-the-counter medications to reduce fever and pain. In more severe cases, hospitalization and supportive measures may be needed.

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus. Currently, there is no licensed vaccine available, and the best way to protect yourself is to avoid contact with wild animals and practice good hygiene. There is no specific antiviral treatment for monkeypox, but there are measures that can help reduce symptoms and improve recovery chances. It is important to be aware of the risk of contracting the virus and of the potential serious health consequences associated with it.