What is Monkeypox virus? All you need to know about history, symptoms and prevention

Last month, WHO's expert committee said the worldwide monkeypox outbreak did not yet amount to an international emergency, but the panel convened this week to reevaluate the situation.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Saturday, July 23, 2022, 08:54 PM IST
article-image
What is Monkeypox virus? All you need to know about history, symptoms and prevention |

The chief of the World Health Organisation said the expanding monkeypox outbreak in more than 70 countries is an "extraordinary" situation that now qualifies as a global emergency, a declaration Saturday that could spur further investment in treating the once-rare disease and worsen the scramble for scarce vaccines.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the decision to issue the declaration despite a lack of consensus among members of WHO's emergency committee. It was the first time the chief of the U.N. health agency has taken such an action.

Although monkeypox has been established in parts of central and west Africa for decades, it was not known to spark large outbreaks beyond the continent or to spread widely among people until May, when authorities detected dozens of epidemics in Europe, North America and elsewhere.

Declaring a global emergency means the monkeypox outbreak is an "extraordinary event" that could spill over into more countries and requires a coordinated global response.

WHO previously declared emergencies for public health crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2014 West African Ebola outbreak, the Zika virus in Latin America in 2016 and the ongoing effort to eradicate polio.

The emergency declaration mostly serves as a plea to draw more global resources and attention to an outbreak. Past announcements had mixed impact, given that the U.N. health agency is largely powerless in getting countries to act.

Last month, WHO's expert committee said the worldwide monkeypox outbreak did not yet amount to an international emergency, but the panel convened this week to reevaluate the situation.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 16,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported in 74 countries since about May. To date, monkeypox deaths have only been reported in Africa, where a more dangerous version of the virus is spreading, mainly in Nigeria and Congo.

In Africa, monkeypox mainly spreads to people from infected wild animals like rodents, in limited outbreaks that typically have not crossed borders. In Europe, North America and elsewhere, however, monkeypox is spreading among people with no links to animals or recent travel to Africa.

WHO's top monkeypox expert, Dr. Rosamund Lewis, said this week that 99% of all the monkeypox cases beyond Africa were in men and that of those, 98% involved men who have sex with men. Experts suspect the monkeypox outbreaks in Europe and North America were spread via sex at two raves in Belgium and Spain.

What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is caused by the monkeypox virus, a member of the same family of viruses as smallpox, although it is much less severe and experts say chances of infection are low.

There are two main strains of virus - west African and central African.

It was first identified in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in crab-eating macaque monkeys that were being used for research, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The first case among humans was recorded in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970, and the illness has since spread to several other nations, mostly in central and western Africa.

Monkeypox can transmit from animals to humans when an infected animal -- such as a rodent or a primate -- bites or scratches a person.


What are the symptoms?

The incubation period for monkeypox is between seven and 14 days, and symptoms are generally mild, according to the CDC.

The most common symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and muscle aches.

In more severe cases, patients can develop a rash and lesions that often begin on the face before spreading to the rest of the body.

Because monkeypox is so rare, your healthcare provider may first suspect other rash illnesses, such as measles, chickenpox or even smallpox. However, swollen lymph nodes distinguish monkeypox from other poxes.

To diagnose monkeypox, your healthcare provider takes a tissue sample that is looked at using a microscope. You may also need to give a blood sample to check for the monkeypox virus or antibodies your immune system makes to it.

A smallpox vaccine can provide protection against monkeypox, but its use is currently limited to people who work in a lab with the variola (smallpox) virus. Prevention depends on decreasing human contact with infected animals and limiting person-to-person spread. You can prevent monkeypox virus by:

  • Avoiding contact with infected animals (especially sick or dead animals).

  • Avoiding contact with bedding and other materials contaminated with the virus.

  • Washing your hands with soap and water after coming into contact with an infected animal.

  • Thoroughly cooking all foods that contain animal meat or parts.

  • Avoiding contact with people who may be infected with the virus.

  • Using personal protective equipment (PPE) when caring for people infected with the virus.

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

RECENT STORIES

Daily Horoscope for Monday, August 15, 2022, for all zodiac signs by astrologer Vinayak Vishwas...

Daily Horoscope for Monday, August 15, 2022, for all zodiac signs by astrologer Vinayak Vishwas...

Delhi: Eye camp organised for EWS students at R.K.Puram school

Delhi: Eye camp organised for EWS students at R.K.Puram school

Rakesh Jhunjhunwala no more: Rites of India's ace stock market investor held in Mumbai; see pics

Rakesh Jhunjhunwala no more: Rites of India's ace stock market investor held in Mumbai; see pics

Rakesh Jhunjhunwala leaves a void in India’s investment play

Rakesh Jhunjhunwala leaves a void in India’s investment play

Maharashtra: Forests of Gadchiroli offer new home for wild elephants

Maharashtra: Forests of Gadchiroli offer new home for wild elephants