The Spread of Monkeypox

Whilst still recovering from the impacts of an unprecedented pandemic, concerns are now being raised in view of the increasing cases of monkeypox in Europe, the United States and Australia. Monkeypox is a rare viral disease typically found in Africa. Although the initial cases are being linked with travel from Africa, the latest infections are associated with community spread. This community transmission increases the risk of outbreaks.

The symptoms of monkeypox include rashes and fever. Anyone experiencing such symptoms is being encouraged to seek medical advice. Monkeypox is part of the same family as smallpox, however the disease is not as dangerous. The virus was first detected in captive monkeys back in 1958. The first recorded case of the virus infecting a human was in 1970. The virus then went dormant for four decades, resurfacing once more in 2017 in Nigeria. As at May 2022, the country reached the four hundred and fifty case mark.

In the past, cases outside Africa were not common. They would have been associated with travel and imported animals. 

So how does one become infected with monkeypox?

One risks becoming infected with monkeypox when he or she comes into close contact with a person or animal that is carrying the virus. The disease can penetrate through broken skin, the respiratory tract, eyes, nose or mouth. In most cases, human transmission takes place through respiratory droplets which follow face-to-face contact. When it comes to animal to human transmission, this can take place through a bite or scratch.

Monkeypox can be transmitted through intercourse, however is not classified as a sexually transmitted disease. Those infected normally develop a rash between one to three days after fever appears. The rash typically starts from the face and transitions to other areas of the body. The rash itself can cause severe itching before it subsides. Most infections last between two to four weeks, and are mild.

Due to the fear created over the past months in relation to diseases which can lead to outbreaks, many are concerned about the possible similarities with the COVID-19 pandemic. One important game changer when discussing monkeypox is the fact that an effective vaccine already exists. The vaccine for smallpox carries an 85% effectiveness rate against monkeypox. In fact, some countries are offering it to those who have been exposed to an infected individual in a bid to control the spread.

In certain cases, Monkeypox can be fatal with some deaths being registered in Africa. On an encouraging note, health experts do not seem to deem a serious outbreak a high probability and the risk to the general public remains low.

How concerned are you with the developments of monkeypox? Let us know in the comments section below.

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