Monkeypox is a rare type of viral disease caused by the monkeypox virus and the disease was first discovered in laboratory monkeys though in its natural state it tends to infect rodent more than the monkeys. The disease mostly occurs in central and western Africa and an outbreak which took place in the United States in 2003 was due to a pet store which sold imported Gambian pouched rats.
Monkey pox virus is a zoonotic viral disease which takes place especially in remote villages of Central and West Africa in the vicinity to tropical rainforests where thereis more contact of infected animals and is usually transmitted to humans from rodents’ pets and through contact with the blood of the animal or through bites.
The disease can spread from person to person through huge respiratory droplets at the time of long periods of face to face contact or on touching body fluids of an infected person or the objects like the bed linen, clothing which could be contaminated with the virus.
It is difficult to differentiate monkeypox clinically from smallpox and chickenpox. It was found that other types of animals probably had monkeypox, from the blood test of animals done later in Africa. In humans, it was for the first time in 1970, that monkeypox was reported. Monkeypox virus belongs to a group of viruses which includes smallpox virus.
Signs and Symptoms of Monkeypox
The signs and symptoms of monkeypox in humans are similar to those of smallpox though they are usually milder. The difference is that it causes the lymph nodes to swell. For around 12 days after the person is infected with the virus, they tend to get fever, headache, muscle aches and backache and their lymph nodes starts swelling with a feeling of tiredness.
Between the first and third day or longer, after the fever comes in, they tend to get a rash which develops into raised bumps filled with fluid and tend to begin on the face spreading to other areas, though it could begin on other areas too. Before the bumps gets crusty and the scabs fall off, they go through several stages and the illness last for 2 to 4 weeks.
For treating monkeypox, a smallpox vaccination should be administered within a period of two weeks of exposure to monkeypox and an antiviral drug is recommended for patients with severe or life threatening symptoms
Prevention of the Disease
This disease can be prevented by refraining from eating or touching animals that are prone to the virus and those who are infected with this disease need to be physically isolated till the pox lesion are healed.
Those who tend to care for these people should use protective measures like using gloves and face masks to avoid any direct or droplet contact with the patient and should also obtain a smallpox vaccination. Since smallpox and monkeypox are quite similar, studies carried out indicate that people who have been vaccinated against smallpox have about 85% chances of being protected against monkeypox. There is no commercially designed vaccine available for monkeypox. The CDC has recommended the following:
- People who have depressed immune systems and are allergic to latex or smallpox vaccine should not take the smallpox vaccine.
- Those who have been exposed to monkeypox in the last 14 days should take the smallpox vaccine which also includes children below one year of age; pregnant women as well as people having skin conditions.