Monkeypox is a viral zoonosis disease that is transmitted from animals.
All You Need to Know About Monkeypox Virus. Sadly, the current situation around monkeypox is constantly budding especially in the reports of cases in non-endemic countries is quite worrisome. Even though this virus has been around since 1958, it has mostly been in countries like Africa and Congo. Its emergence in developed countries like the US, UK, and Spain has raised many questions. Even though the risk of monkeypox transmitting among the general public is pretty low, still close monitoring of the situation is vital for health organizations. One of the key challenges is to educate people about the disease to not only control the transmission but also to keep them calm and counter the chances of panic.
Epidemiology of The Disease
Monkeypox is a viral zoonosis disease that is transmitted from animals. The symptoms this virus carries are similar to smallpox (which has been eradicated from Earth). According to health professionals, the symptoms of monkeypox are less severe than that of smallpox. There are currently two identified clads of the virus: The Central African Clade, which includes the Congo Basin, and the West African Clade.
The name originates from the initial discovery of the virus in the Danish Laboratory where it was discovered in the monkey in 1958. The first case in a human subject was identified in a child in Congo in 1970. The virus transmits from one person to the other by close contact with the body fluids, skin, or respiratory droplets of the infected. The incubation period of the virus is somewhere around 6 to 13 days but can extend to up to 21 days.
The virus itself is self-limiting but can become severe in children. Expecting women or people with a weak immune system. The diseases from the Western clade are less severe than those from the central clade.
Symptoms of Monkeypox
In humans, the symptoms of monkeypox can include the below:
- Muscle aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
In a period of 1 to 3 days, or sometimes longer, after the fever, the infected develop a rash that further becomes a bump that is water-filled to being pus-filled and then becomes a crust. It starts from the face and then spreads to other parts of the body.
The most effective way to treat monkeypox is the preventive measure one can take:
- Abstain close contact with the person who is at risk of having the disease.
- Maintain good hygiene, especially after being in contact with animals.
- Avoid animals that are at risk of developing the virus.
- Evade direct contact with beddings, laundry, or any other utensil used or has been in contact with the sick animal or person.
The Current Outbreak in Non–Endemic Countries
According to the reports, since May 13, 2022, cases of the monkey virus have been reported by 12 member states of the WHO that are not endemic. Since then, WHO has been trying to connect the dots to find a reason for this but not much success has been achieved so far on the subject matter. Based on the current information, several cases include men who have self-identified as having sex with men (MSM) who are currently seeking care in primary health and sexual health clinics.
The below table gives a snapshot of the cases in these member states.
Awareness campaigns have been commenced to educate the public and prevent further cases from emerging. More cases are expected to crop up when surveillance of non-endemic countries will be started in other countries as well. The health organizations have started to keep local health centers on alert to cope with the increase of infected individuals. The currently available data points that the people who are in close contact with the infected, doctors, medical staff of family, are at higher risk of developing the diseases themselves. WHO has announced to provide more technical measures to fight against the virus in the coming days.
The disturbing thing is that the reported cases have so far, no established travel links to the endemic area. The current cases are identified to be from the Western African Clade.
Current Status of Monkeypox
As of yesterday, monkeypox has been reported in three more countries including the UAE, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic. The United Arab Emirates becomes the first country in the Gulf to report the virus. The total number of non-endemic countries has risen to 18 countries. Addition to this list is still expected. Outbreaks of the monkeypox are yet found in Europe America, Australia, and now the Middle East. The individual reported in the UAE is a traveler who had recently been to West Africa. This explains where he would have picked up the germs.
So far 237 cases have been confirmed from outside of Africa. Germany has ordered more than 40,000 doses of the Imvanex vaccine that was used to treat smallpox. The vaccine is said to be effective to treat monkeypox. People who have received the smallpox vaccine years ago would still have immunity from the vaccine. But the German health officials added that the older treatments carry more side effects so it is not much effective in fighting monkeypox today.