Cases of the rare monkeypox virus have appeared in Europe and the United States, suggesting that the virus associated with smallpox is spread locally rather than arising due to travel to countries where the virus is endemic – particularly Central and West Africa.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating possible cases in the United States, including a confirmed case of a man in Massachusetts. CDC representatives said in a statement: “The CDC urges US health care providers to exercise caution in patients with rash illnesses consistent with monkeypox, regardless of whether they have travel or specific risk factors for monkeypox. Regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
After confirming about 100 cases across Europe, the World Health Organization announced on Friday (20 May) that it will hold an emergency meeting to discuss the outbreak, Reuters reported. Although fears of another pandemic are likely high, experts do not expect monkeypox to reach these levels of transmission, as the virus does not spread as easily as SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, according to Reuters.
Here’s what we know so far about monkeypox and the current outbreak.
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a disease caused by the monkeypox virus (the genus Orthopoxvirus). The virus is closely related to other “smallpox” viruses such as vaccinia, smallpox (which causes smallpox) and cowpox virus, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Monkeypox was first identified in 1958 in monkey colonies, and then again in 1970 in humans in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In subsequent years, monkeypox outbreaks have spread to areas across central and western Africa, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Is monkeypox fatal?
According to the World Health Organization, monkeypox generally takes its course, and recovers on its own, over two to four weeks. However, serious cases can occur, and today about 3% to 6% of people with this disease die, according to the World Health Organization. The risk of death is higher among young children. Individuals under the age of 40 to 50 may be more likely to get monkeypox because vaccinations against smallpox – which help protect a person from getting monkeypox – were discontinued after the disease was eradicated, at different times in different countries.
The current cases of monkeypox appear to be genetically related to the variant that is predominantly prevalent in West Africa, and is less deadly – with a case fatality rate of about 1% in these remote areas, I mentioned Nature News.
What are the symptoms of monkeypox disease?
Like many viruses, monkeypox starts with fever, chills, fatigue, muscle aches, and headaches, but it also causes swollen lymph nodes, according to the CDC. Within one to three days after a fever appears, people may develop a rash that begins on the face and spreads throughout the body. The rash develops through several stages before disappearing. First, light brown spots appear all over the body. After that, the so-called papules appear, which are protruding bumps. Then, the rash turns into vesicles and pimple-like blisters filled with pus. Finally, these scabs shed and shed. The CDC notes that the illness usually takes two to four weeks.
How does monkeypox spread?
Monkeypox is a zoonotic disease, which means that it is usually transmitted from an animal reservoir to a human. (The primary animal host is not known, but could include a number of species of rodents or primates, according to Who is the.) The virus can also spread between people through close, constant contact. This close contact can occur either via skin lesions, respiratory droplets, body fluids, or contaminated materials such as bedding, according to the World Health Organization. Monkeypox is much less contagious than SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. However, scientists are currently looking into the genomes of some of these new cases of monkeypox, to see if there are any mutations that might increase transmission, Nature News reports.
Can monkeypox be treated?
Although no treatment has been tested and found to be safe and effective, doctors may use a number of options to treat the infection, including antiviral medications and xenia immunoglobulin (antibodies taken from pooled blood of people vaccinated with the smallpox vaccine), according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. of them. The smallpox and monkeypox vaccine can be used to prevent transmission of the disease to others using what is known as “Circular Vaccination” Strategy. In this system, close contacts of the initial case are vaccinated with the smallpox vaccine to prevent transmission, Live Science previously reported. It was this strategy that eventually led to the eradication of smallpox in 1980.
Where was monkeypox discovered?
So far, more than 100 cases have been reported worldwidewith the majority of cases appearing in Spain, Portugal and the United Kingdom, there are also several cases linked to an outbreak near Montreal, Canada, one in New York City and one in Massachusetts, The New York Times reported. Cases have also been reported in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Australia. Many cases in men between the ages of 30 and 55 who have had sex with men, According to the Washington Post.
If you think you have monkeypox, what should you do?
If you suspect you have monkeypox, contact your health care provider for treatment and contact tracing, especially if you fall into one of the following categories: According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:
You have traveled to Central or West Africa, areas in Europe that have reported monkeypox or other areas with confirmed cases within the month prior to the onset of symptoms.
You have been in contact with a person with confirmed or suspected monkeypox.
You are a man who is in regular intimate contact with other men.
“If individuals are sick, they’re often sick for two to four weeks,” said Andrea McCollum, a smallpox virus epidemiologist at the CDC. “It’s essential to identify people early, get treatment and identify contacts.” Atlantic Ocean.
Originally published on Live Science.