Highlights

  • World Health Organization (WHO) defines Monkeypox as a viral zoonotic disease
  • Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 in colonies of monkeys
  • All about the monkeypox virus from symptoms to prevention

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Explained: what is monkeypox, its symptoms and chances of human transmission

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines Monkeypox as a viral zoonotic disease caused by the monkeypox virus belongng to the same family of viruses which causes smallpox.

What is Monkeypox?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines Monkeypox as a viral zoonotic disease caused by the monkeypox virus belongng to the same family of viruses which causes smallpox.

What are the origins of the virus and how common is it?

As per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research. Hence the name ‘monkeypox.’

In humans, the first case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970 in Congo. Since then, the virus has remained majorly restricted to African nations.

Though, occasional cases have been reported in the US, UK, Singapore and Israel.

What are the symptoms of the disease?

Symptoms of monkeypox are similar but milder than that of smallpox. Monkeypox begins with fever, headache, muscle aches, and exhaustion.
Within 1 to 3 days (sometimes longer) after the appearance of fever, the patient develops a rash, often beginning on the face then spreading to other parts of the body. The illness typically lasts for 2−4 weeks.

How is Monkeypox transmitted?

Infection spreads from direct contact with the blood, bodily fluids of the infected animals. Eating inadequately cooked meat and other animal products of infected animals is a possible risk factor.

Human-to-human transmission is relatively limited. Infection can result from close contact with respiratory secretions, skin lesions of an infected person or recently contaminated objects. Transmission via droplet respiratory particles usually requires prolonged face-to-face contact

Source of infection

In Africa, evidence of monkeypox virus infection has been found in many animals including rope squirrels, tree squirrels, Gambian poached rats, dormice, different species of monkeys. The natural reservoir of monkeypox has not yet been identified, though rodents are the most likely source of infection.

Also watch: US confirms monkeypox infection in man who travelled to Canada

Who are at most risk of the disease?

In Africa, monkeypox has been shown to cause death in as many as 1 in 10 persons who contract the disease. The fatality has been observed to be higher among young children.

Prevention and Treatment

Curently, there is no specific treatment for monkeypox virus however, the smallpox vaccine has been demonstrated to be about 85% effective in preventing the disease.

Avoiding direct contact with infected humans or animals, isolation, good hand hygiene and using personal protective gears are some of the preventive measures.

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