What Is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is an infectious disease caused by the monkeypox virus (MPXV). It is similar to, but less severe than, the close relative, smallpox. It is found mainly in remote parts of Central and West Africa, where there is frequent contact with infected animals. Human-to-human transmission can occur, but it is much less common than animal-to-human transmission.
Symptoms of Monkeypox
Monkeypox usually begins with a fever,headache, muscle aches, and exhaustion. After 1-5 days, a blister-like rash appears, usually beginning on the face and spreading to other parts of the body. The rash begins as raised bumps but then fills with fluid and develops a crust. The rash can be very itchy and painful. It usually lasts for 2-4 weeks. Other symptoms include swollen lymph nodes, cough, and shortness of breath. Generally, the illness resolves by itself and is not fatal.
In some cases, monkeypox can cause serious complications and even death. These can include secondary bacterial infections of the skin, pneumonia, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), and internal organ involvement. This is more common in cases of severe disease.
Diagnosis of monkeypox is based on symptoms and a history of potential exposure. Laboratory testing is available to confirm the diagnosis. Laboratory testing includes viral cultures, serological assays, and/or PCR tests.
There is no specific treatment or vaccine for monkeypox. Treatment is mainly supportive and includes appropriate wound care, hydration, and monitoring of any complications. The antiviral drug, Cidofovir, may be used to treat secondary infections due to the virus. In addition, precautions should be taken to avoid infecting others.
The best way to prevent monkeypox is to avoid contact with infected animals, especially in areas where the virus is known to occur. Other tips to prevent infection include washing hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer; avoiding contact with people who are infected; not eating or drinking items that have come in contact with an infected person or animal; vaccinating against smallpox; and wearing protective clothing, such as gloves and face masks, when in contact with an infected person or animal.
What to Do if You Suspect Monkeypox
If you suspect that you or someone you know has been exposed to monkeypox, contact your healthcare provider or local health department immediately. If possible, avoid contact with other people until your diagnosis is confirmed by a healthcare provider.
Recent Monkeypox Outbreak
In 2019, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported an outbreak of monkeypox in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The outbreak began with a series of infections in a rural village in the Equateur Province. As of August 2019, 12 cases have been reported, including 2 deaths.
The CDC is currently working with local and international health partners to investigate the outbreak and take the necessary steps to contain it. They are also working to develop a vaccine to protect against monkeypox and to provide guidance to medical professionals on how to diagnose and treat the disease.
Risk Factors for Monkeypox
There are several risk factors that can increase a person’s risk of getting monkeypox. These include living in or traveling to an area where monkeypox is endemic; living in a household with an infected person or pet; contact with people or animals who have had contact with an infected individual; and contact with an animal that carries the virus (such as squirrels, rats, mice, or monkeys).
Other Risk Factors Include:
• Having a weakened immune system due to medication or medical conditions
• Not being vaccinated against smallpox
• Poor hygiene
• Poor sanitation
• Eating or drinking items that have come in contact with an infected person or animal
• Crowded living conditions
Monkeypox is an infectious disease caused by the monkeypox virus. It is similar to, but less severe than, smallpox. Symptoms typically include fever, headache, muscle aches, and a blister-like rash. It can sometimes cause serious complications and even death. The best way to prevent monkeypox is to avoid contact with infected animals, practice good hygiene, and take other precautions to avoid exposure. If you suspect that you or someone you know has been exposed, contact your healthcare provider or local health department immediately.