So, where does monkeypox come from?
The virus was first identified in 1958 when researchers in Denmark were experimenting with monkeys that had the pox-like disease. In 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the first monkeypox case was diagnosed in humans.
The monkeypox virus is usually transferred from animals to humans. In 2003, forty-seven people in six US states caught monkeypox due to being in contact with their pet prairie dogs, who had been housed near imported animals from Ghana.
Later on, in 2017, monkeypox visited Nigeria. There were more than 450 reported cases within Nigeria and around eight exported cases internationally.
You might be wondering if monkeypox is similar to smallpox, and the answer is yes, but the symptoms are usually milder. Monkeypox virus begins by showing flu-like symptoms of fever, chills, exhaustion, headache, muscle aches, and muscle weakness.
The difference between monkeypox and smallpox is the development of swollen lymph nodes, while smallpox does not develop the swelling of lymph nodes. Swelling of the lymph nodes helps the body fight off infections and diseases.
After around 1 to 3 days, the individual will start forming a rash. The rash will develop around the face and body, including the mouth, palms, hands, and feet. Lesions will form and undergo multiple processes before falling off, such as macules, papules, vesicles, pustules, and scabs.
The usual incubation period (time from infection to symptoms) of monkeypox is 7-14 days; however, it can range from 5 -21 days. People with the virus are usually hospitalized for about two or four weeks, but the virus is occasionally deadly.
Spread of Monkeypox
How does monkeypox spread?
You have to be in proximity to an infected individual for the monkeypox to spread; such exposure includes broken skin, mucus membranes, respiratory droplets, infected body fluids, or even contact with contaminated linen.
The most common way to transmit the infection to another person is through large respiratory droplets, such as coughing or sneezing; however, the virus does not spread easily, and the risk is relatively low.
Another way it could spread is when lesions are healed and scabs form, they shed dust-like particles that could be inhaled.
Who and what is the leading corporate carrier of monkeypox? The primary carrier is still unknown, but African rodents are suspected of playing a key role in transmitting the virus.
It is a virus that has probably been circulating in these animals for many years and has primarily stayed in animal populations. The spread from animal to human may occur from a bite, scratch, or consuming meat that isn’t cooked enough.
Prevention of Monkeypox
What is the best way to prevent monkeypox?
There are many ways to prevent being infected, try to avoid contact with animals that may have the virus, and avoid materials that were in contact with a sick animal or person.
Isolate an infected person who could transmit the virus to others, wash hands after being in contact with animals or humans infected, and wear protective equipment while being around infected individuals.
It is mainly transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact, so nothing like Covid.
Treatment of Monkeypox
Unfortunately, no proven treatment is available for curing monkeypox; however, the smallpox vaccine, antivirals, and vaccinia immune globulin (VIG) can be used. The smallpox vaccine offers 85% protection against monkeypox due to its similarities.
Recently, monkeypox has been on the surge. Cases are spreading globally from Canada, the United States, Europe, and Australia.
In 2021, the US confirmed two people with monkeypox who traveled from Nigeria to the US. Now there has been one confirmed case in Massachusetts and New York.
Other recent cases have confirmed one in France, Germany, Netherlands, and Sweden, while Canada confirmed two and Italy three. The total cases in the UK are up to 20, Portugal’s is up to 23, and Spain is 30, while Australia identified one case. There are still more cases being investigated.
After more than two years of living and dealing with a pandemic, it is understandable why this virus is causing alarm.
However, all the virus strains that are infecting all of the cases are the West African clade meaning that this type of monkeypox is much more benign than the Congo Basin clade.
The concern is that experts are unable to find where the disease is coming from and how the virus is spreading in such a vast scope. It has been puzzling how people who haven’t traveled and haven’t been around any infected animal or human are catching the monkeypox virus.
At the moment, the issue of monkeypox is emerging, which means it could either end up staying mild or escalating into something more serious.
The number of infected individuals is still small; however, it is essential to be aware of the situation and know the symptoms associated with monkeypox.
Monkeypox is not a virus that spreads quickly between individuals. Experts state that the threat of this virus is not comparable to the Covid pandemic.
Many people who have monkeypox have a milder case of the virus. No evidence shows the monkeypox virus mutating, and viruses associated in this group usually do not mutate while staying stable.
It is important to note that the likelihood of the virus spreading at a higher rate is during sexual activities amongst individuals. Monkeypox is not considered a sexually transmitted disease; however, it is associated with direct contact with another individual.
Currently, the US is looking into releasing vaccines from the national stockpile that could help in preventing the spread of the monkeypox virus amongst ‘high-risk’ people.
Written by: Emmanuel J. Osemota