The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that monkeypox is spreading rapidly and could become endemic in many countries. Monkeypox is a rare infectious zoonotic disease, meaning that it can spread from animals to humans. It is caused by the monkeypox virus, which is related to the smallpox virus.
Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 in monkeys kept for research. The first human case was reported in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Since then, monkeypox has been reported in several other central and west African countries.
In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of monkeypox cases reported outside of Africa. In 2022, there was a global outbreak of monkeypox, with cases reported in over 70 countries. This was the first time that monkeypox had been reported in many of these countries.
The WHO has warned that the current monkeypox outbreak is a serious public health threat. The virus is spreading rapidly, and there is no specific treatment for monkeypox. However, there are vaccines available that can protect against the virus.
How monkeypox spreads
Monkeypox can spread from person to person through close contact with an infected person’s skin lesions, respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or objects that have been contaminated with the virus.
Monkeypox can also spread from animals to people through contact with an infected animal’s blood, body fluids, or skin lesions.
Symptoms of monkeypox
The symptoms of monkeypox are similar to those of smallpox, but they are usually less severe. Symptoms typically begin 7-14 days after exposure to the virus and can last for 2-4 weeks.
The most common symptoms of monkeypox include:
- Muscle aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
The rash usually begins on the face and then spreads to the rest of the body. The rash starts out as flat, red spots that eventually turn into blisters. The blisters eventually crust over and fall off.
Treatment for monkeypox
There is no specific treatment for monkeypox. However, there are vaccines available that can protect against the virus. The vaccine is most effective if it is given within 4 days of exposure to the virus.
If you think you may have monkeypox, it is important to see a doctor right away.
There are a number of things you can do to prevent monkeypox:
- Avoid contact with wild animals and their blood, fluids, or skin lesions.
- Avoid contact with an infected person’s skin lesions, respiratory droplets, or objects that have been contaminated with the virus.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
- Get vaccinated against monkeypox.
Monkeypox is a serious public health threat, but it can be prevented. If you think you may have monkeypox, it is important to see a doctor right away.
In addition to the above, here are some additional things to consider about monkeypox:
- The monkeypox virus is more likely to spread among people who have close contact with each other, such as sexual partners and household members.
- People with HIV/AIDS or other conditions that weaken the immune system are at increased risk of serious complications from monkeypox.
- There are several antiviral medications that may be used to treat monkeypox, but they are not always effective.
- The monkeypox vaccine is safe and effective. It is recommended for people who are at high risk of exposure to the virus, such as healthcare workers and people who have multiple sexual partners.
The WHO is monitoring the global monkeypox outbreak and providing guidance to countries on how to prevent and control the spread of the virus.