What is monkeypox? How severe is it?
What is monkeypox? Monkeypox is a viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals) with symptoms similar to those seen in the past in smallpox patients, although it is clinically less severe.
Monkeypox virus is an enveloped double-stranded DNA virus that belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus of the Poxviridae family.
According to the World Health Organisation, there are two “clades” of monkeypox virus, including the West African clade and the Congo Basin clade.
The West African clade, which PCR testing proved was the culprit for several infections in the UK, has a fatality rate of less than 1%. The Congo Basin or Central African clade has a higher mortality rate of up to 10%, per the World Health Organization.
Monkeypox was first discovered in the 1950s in colonies of monkeys that were being researched, according to the CDC, but it’s also been found in squirrels, rats and other animals. The first human case was discovered in 1970.
How is monkeypox spread?
Monkeypox spreads between people primarily through respiratory droplets, according to the CDC, but it can also be spread through broken skin or a mucous membrane (as in your eyes or mouth).
Contact with bodily fluids, including the fluid or material in the lesions or “pox” someone with monkeypox typically develops.
Many of the people who were exposed to monkeypox in countries that don’t normally have monkeypox cases, including Portugal, Spain and the UK, were men who have sex with men, according to the CDC’s news release.
Close contact with a sexual partner could expose you to monkeypox, if the other person has symptoms.
What are its symptoms?
Symptoms of monkeypox in humans are similar to (but milder than) smallpox, which the WHO declared eliminated in 1980.
A monkeypox infection usually begins with flu-like symptoms, including fatigue, intense headache, fever and swollen lymph nodes.
Within one to three days of a fever developing, according to the CDC, a rash typically develops on the face and spreads.
The lesions, or monkeypox, will start to fill with puss, then eventually scab over and fall off.
Illness typically lasts for two to four weeks. The incubation period ranges from five to 21 days, per the CDC.
Is there a vaccine for monkeypox?
Yes. Monkeypox is so closely related to smallpox, vaccines for smallpox are also effective against monkeypox, and vice versa.
Raising awareness of risk factors and educating people about the measures they can take to reduce exposure to the virus is the main prevention strategy for monkeypox.
[ADDITIONAL INPUT: WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION (WHO) & NEWS AGENCIES]