Monkeypox is an illness caused by the monkeypox virus, a zoonotic virus in the genus Orthopoxvirus, which can spread from person to person. A zoonotic infection is one that can be transmitted from animals to humans.
Animal-to-human transmission (zoonosis) occurs through direct contact with body fluids and mucosal lesions of infected animals. Rope squirrels, tree squirrels, Gambian pouched rats, dormice, different species of monkeys, and others have been found infected with the monkeypox virus in Africa. Risk factors include eating meat from infected animals that have not been properly cooked and living in or near forested areas that may have indirect or low-level exposure to infected animals are possible risk factors.
Contact with respiratory fluids or contaminated objects can result in human-to-human transmission, which makes health workers, household members, and other close contacts more vulnerable. In addition, it can be transmitted through the placenta, from mother to fetus (leading to congenital monkeypox) and through close contact before and after birth.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 65,933 monkeypox cases have been confirmed worldwide as of September 26, 2022.
Signs and Symptoms
It may take several days to a few weeks for symptoms to appear after exposure. People with weak immune systems, pregnant women, and children are at a greater risk of developing severe diseases. Early signs and symptoms of monkeypox include:
- Muscle or backaches
- Swollen lymph nodes
A few days after, rashes develop, and they may last for two to three weeks. They may start as flat, painful red bumps before turning into blisters filled with pus. People remain infectious until all the blisters have dried, the scabs fallen off, and a new layer of skin has formed underneath.
It is possible to have monkeypox without knowing it, as not everyone develops all the symptoms. People with the disease can still spread it through close contact even if they don’t show symptoms.
Some of the ways to help prevent the spread of the monkeypox virus are to:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
- Disinfect surfaces around the house, office, or health centres.
- Wear a mask when in crowded places.
- Stay away from infected animals (particularly sick or dead animals).
- Cook all foods containing animal meat or parts properly.
- Practice safe sex, including the use of condoms.
People infected with monkeypox should follow the advice of their health care provider. Also, they can do the following to feel better;
- Try Oatmeal baths: Oatmeal baths can relieve the itchy, dry feeling associated with skin rashes.
- Practice Isolation: Avoid contact with others until all the scabs have fallen off.
- Cover lesions: Use gauze or bandages to limit the spread to others and the environment.
- Take good care: Stay at home to rest, wear a mask around others and remain hydrated.
- Avoid contact with animals that are prone to infection (especially rodents).
In the last two years, we have faced different challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, which has altered our lives in many ways. As we settle into our routines, we hear and see media reports about monkeypox, a rare disease.
The government, health workers, organizations, and society at large should spread adequate information on its prevention and control to reduce the spread of the disease.