Since May 2022, there have been incidents of an outbreak of a disease known as monkeypox. Monkeypox is a disease caused by an orthodox virus with symptoms resembling smallpox. It is a zoonosis, an illness that spreads from animals to humans. The outbreak of this rare disease has raised concerns, with people worried about its impact.
It is therefore vital to understand more about this disease, its symptoms, and how it spreads. In this article, you will learn how to protect yourself against monkeypox.
Is Monkeypox Dangerous?
Is monkeypox deadly?
As per the CDC, 1 in 10 cases can lead to death. Complications can arise from this disease, but no one has died in the present outbreak, which is still assuring.
However, this does not mean you can take this disease lightly. The symptoms can be severe, causing a lot of problems. There have been reports of complications arising due to monkeypox. Pneumonia is one such complication reported. People have also reported infection in the eyes and encephalitis (brain infection) due to this virus.
How do You Get Monkeypox?
There are different ways in which you can get infected by monkeypox. You can get infected if you are scratched or bitten by an infected animal. Eating meat or products prepared from an animal infected by monkeypox also exposes you to the risk of getting this disease.
Apart from contact with an animal, you can also be infected by a person with this disease. Person-to-person infection can occur in any of the following ways:
- Sexual intercourse with an infected person or having intimate physical contact.
- Being exposed to respiratory secretions of an infected person through face-to-face contact.
- Coming into contact with an infected person's body fluids, scabs, or rashes.
- When you touch any item that has been in contact with infectious fluids or rashes of an infected person.
- A baby in the womb can be infected if the mother has monkeypox.
It is vital to note that monkeypox spreads only among people with the disease's symptoms. A person infected who is developing a rash can spread the infection for anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks until it fully healed. It is not clear whether the infection can spread through semen or vaginal fluids.
What is the Difference between Chickenpox, Monkeypox, and Smallpox?
It is not easy to identify monkeypox symptoms since they can resemble chickenpox. Without a test, it may be challenging to differentiate between the two. We must note that monkeypox symptoms generally resolve in four weeks.
Monkeypox is not as fatal as compared to smallpox. A marked difference is the swelling in the lymph nodes, which is seen in monkeypox, while it does not happen in smallpox.
The following explains the differences between monkeypox, chickenpox, and smallpox:
A virus from the orthopoxvirus family causes both monkeypox and smallpox. The Varicella-zoster virus causes chickenpox.
Monkeypox rash starts on the face, moves to other parts, and falls off as a scab. The chickenpox rash spreads from the chest and moves to other body parts. The monkeypox rash is found on the palm and soles, but this is not the case with chickenpox. Smallpox symptoms start as spots on the tongue and then become a rash on the face, palm, soles, etc. It falls off as a scab. All three diseases can cause fever.
The lymph nodes are swollen in monkeypox but not in chickenpox and smallpox.
The time from infection to symptoms is 5 to 21 days for monkeypox, 10 to 21 days for chickenpox, and 7 to 19 days for smallpox.
The duration of monkeypox can last for 2 to 4 weeks, while smallpox lasts for 5 weeks. Chickenpox lasts for 4 to 7 days.
A monkeypox vaccine has been developed but is not yet available universally.
The smallpox vaccine was extensively used previously but is not needed now since smallpox has been eradicated. The chickenpox virus is a live one.
Until now, monkeypox has had no fatalities, but the disease can cause complications. Smallpox used to pose risks but is not a concern now. Chickenpox is generally a mild disease with no deaths.
How do You Avoid Getting Monkeypox?
To answer this question, we need to know how is monkeypox transmitted. This information will help you understand how to avoid getting infected by monkeypox. At present, monkeypox is mainly transmitted by contacting an infected person's sores, scabs, or respiratory fluids. Contact with linen used by an infected person can also cause the disease.
You can prevent yourself from being infected by taking measures like:
- Avoid contact with animals or people infected by monkeypox.
- Wearing a mask can offer adequate protection against the spread of the virus through the air.
- Disinfect surfaces so the virus does not spread from them. Wash your hands with soap or a sanitiser if you encounter any object touched by an infected person.
- Animal meat should be properly cooked before eating to kill the virus.
- Safe sexual intercourse is essential since many reports of the virus being spread through such intercourse. Use of condoms and dental dams are recommended.
Interesting Facts About Monkeypox
- The monkeypox virus is related closely to the same virus that causes smallpox.
- The animals that cause the infection are primarily found in the tropical rainforests of Central and West Africa.
- Being a zoonotic disease, the infection can spread from animals to humans and from one human to another.
- There are two vaccines available for this disease. One is in short supply, and the other is not recommended for people with other health issues.
- Monkeypox is self-limiting and usually heals on its own.
Where Did Monkeypox Come From?
The first case of monkeypox was reported from the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was first reported in 1970 in a 9-month-old baby boy. These cases have been primarily reported in West and Central African countries like Cameroon, Core d' Ivory, Gabon, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, South Sudan, etc.
It was in 2005 that the first case was reported outside Africa. It happened in the USA in 2003, when people were infected by prairie dogs. The 2002 outbreak can be traced back to May 7th, when a monkeypox infection was reported in the UK who had travelled from Nigeria.
Signs and Symptoms of Monkeypox: What Does Monkeypox Do To The Body?
It usually takes some days before the symptoms of monkeypox are seen post-infection. The early signs of monkeypox are similar to the flu. Some of the symptoms that you would notice are:
- Fever with or without chills.
- Body ache, with muscle aches in particular.
- Swelling in the lymph nodes.
The most significant symptom of monkeypox is the rash. The rash looks like blisters or pimples. They are usually seen on the face and then spread to the palms, soles, hands, feet, chest, anus, and genitals. You can search for monkeypox pictures online to see what the rash looks like. The rash dries and falls off after anywhere from two to four weeks.
During the present outbreak, not all patients have experienced these typical symptoms. Patients have experienced symptoms like a few lesions, mild fever, and no swollen lymph nodes. Monkeypox infection is usually self-limiting and does not pose serious issues.
However, it must be noted that certain complications can occur in people infected by monkeypox. These include:
- Encephalitis, leading to inflammation in the brain tissue.
- Corneal inflammation in the eye which can cause vision loss.
- Any other secondary infection.
Protecting Yourself Against Monkeypox
Wearing masks is the best protection against monkeypox. Just as masks protected you during the Corona pandemic, masks are your best bet against monkeypox. It is important to wear good-quality masks that offer the best protection.
Apart from wearing masks, avoid exposure to people who have monkeypox-like symptoms. In case you have symptoms of monkeypox, see a doctor. Different monkeypox treatment options can help you recover quickly without much hardship. Follow preventive measures and protect yourself and your family from monkeypox.
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