Ever since COVID-19 came into existence 2 years ago, people all over the globe have become anxious and overall, more apprehensive. Just when there seems to be a little relief from coronavirus, here is another disease that’s starting to grip the world – Monkeypox. A rare disease most wouldn’t have heard of till recently.
So, what is the fuss all about this new disease? Whether it is a deadly disease or is it curable? Let’s find out all about Monkeypox in this article.
What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is an illness infected in one’s body due to the monkeypox virus. It is transmitted in humans through infected animals like African rodents and non-human, e.g. Monkeys, the first cases of monkeypox in humans is traced back to 1970. Although, the actual disease was first found in 1958 when a group of monkeys kept for research was found to be infected with a pox-like illness.
The common disease smallpox is caused by the variola virus. Monkeypox is also part of the same family of viruses variola virus. In fact, the symptoms observed in Monkeypox are quite similar to smallpox. But this disease is a lot milder and it is less life-threatening.
Symptoms associated with Monkeypox
The start of this disease is generally found with a rash. This could be located mostly near one’s genitals like testicles, penis, vagina, labia, or anus. Though that’s not definitive, and one can find the rash on any other body parts as well.
The rash initially looks like a flat lesion which eventually rises. This rash then changes into a pimple or a blister while other rashes form on the body. In many infected cases, these rashes are irritable, itchy, and painful. Some also report skin sensitivity. These rashes also fill up with pus and fluid. Before complete healing, these rashes generally scab and become crusty.
Most symptoms recorded are
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Muscle aches and backache
- Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
Though there is no set pattern of all the symptoms. Some patients might register only rashes on the skin while some may experience rashes as well as other symptoms.
The total period of Monkeypox
The usual time period till one completely heals from monkeypox is found to be around 2 weeks – 4 weeks. Please note it is a spreadable disease till not cured fully. Therefore, till fully healed, anyone can catch monkeypox from the infected patient. If the flu-like symptoms are found first, then the rashes take 1-4 days to appear.
One is not considered to be fully healed until the scabbed rashes have fallen off and new skin appears in its place.
How does Monkeypox spread?
This illness is likely to be spread when in close contact with an already infected person. The close contact could be in the form of
- Face-to-face contact
- Skin-to-skin contact
- Touching the rashes of the infected person
- Respiratory secretions
- Touching objects (like bedding, towels, sex toys) that have come in contact with the infected person
- Sex of any form with the infected person
- The fetus of a pregnant lady can also be infected through the placenta
A lot is being searched concerning the symptoms of monkeypox and how often an infected person can spread the virus through respiratory secretion. There’s also less evidence right now as to the spreadability of the virus through sources like semen, vaginal fluids, urine, or feces.
Also, there’s a common misconception among people that Monkeypox is an exclusive STI disease. But that’s not the truth. It can be spread through sex as well as other contacts.
Cure for Monkeypox
There is no concrete cure or medicine for monkeypox virus infections. But since the monkeypox and smallpox viruses are genetically the same, therefore the smallpox antivirus is given to patients with monkeypox. The antiviral tecovirimat (TPOXX) can be recommended for infected people especially the ones with weak immunity. This is seen to reduce the pain substantially while it helped clear up their rash faster.
Though it’s also observed that the monkeypox virus recovers after a time of 2-4 weeks by itself. Also, there is a 1 to 10 percent of chance that this disease can seriously harm someone or can be life-threatening.
But precautions are important for unvaccinated children and immunocompromised populations. It’s also observed that monkeypox can cause damage to the brain, eyes, and lungs.
Vaccines for Monkeypox
There is no exclusive vaccine for monkeypox as of now. But smallpox vaccines are recommended for the infected patients which are
- ACAM2000, the original smallpox vaccine
- JYNNEOS, a newer vaccine
JYNNEOS vaccine takes around 14 days after its second dose for its immune protection to reach its maximum. While ACAM2000 is a single-dose vaccine and takes around a month to kick in the body properly.
ACAM2000 is supposed to have more side effects to it and therefore has to be recommended by your doctor before opting. Generally, people with weekend immunity are not advised to take the ACAM2000 vaccine.
If the monkeypox virus is not deadly and is self-cured within a period of 2-4 weeks, then why are the governments all over the world fussing about this disease, one might wonder. Well, mainly before it’s a disease that children are prone to. It’s a transferable disease just like COVID-19 where a simple touch or prolonged contact can infect someone.
Also, surveys have registered untrustworthy nature among people in the USA where 66% of the population don’t believe that there is existing vaccination for monkeypox. More than 20% of the population in the USA have great concerns about monkeypox and are seriously scared, so much so, that 2 states USA, New York, and California came under states of emergency.
This fear is mainly because just until recently people have faced a grave disease like coronavirus. The road of misconceptions and misinformation opens up quite quickly in such times and that’s why monkeypox seems to be the big outbreak.
Only right guidance and proper medical advice can solve this issue. People have to be more cautious about their own protection. Any kind of contact if unnecessary should be avoided. Safe sex practice is needed to be followed. Personal hygiene practices like regular washing of hands are a must. Wear masks in public places at all times.