HomeHealthHow does Monkeypox spread? Current Scientific Facts

How does Monkeypox spread? Current Scientific Facts

Houston, USA: The WHO has declared the current outbreak of Monkeypox a public health emergency. As of August 9, 2022, nearly 32,000 cases have been reported worldwide, including India and the US. Several health agencies around the world are responding to contain the spread and prevent infections.

Monkeypox is caused by a virus that is much more difficult to contract from person to person. Monkeypox is a member of the Orthopoxvirus genus, which also includes the virus that causes smallpox. Although the risk of contracting monkeypox is low, this infection is a public health problem whose burden can be reduced through good practices.

Q1. How is Monkeypox distributed? The monkeypox virus usually spreads through direct contact with respiratory secretions, such as mucus or saliva, or skin lesions (eg, sexual contact). Some super spreading events include air travel, large gatherings, and sex with multiple partners.

Q2. Who is at risk of getting Monkeypox? Anyone who has had long-term and close contact with an infected person is at risk. The virus can spread through close skin-to-skin contact. Although monkeypox can be transmitted during sexual activity (in young men and adults), it is not considered a sexually transmitted disease (STD) as it can be obtained from other sources. Common modes of transmission include close contact with infected people or contaminated items used in offices, restaurants, and parties.

Q3. What Are Monkeypox Symptoms? The symptoms of monkeypox are similar to the symptoms of smallpox, but milder. The incubation period of monkeypox is about 7 days and symptoms develop in 17 days. Most patients present “flu-like” mild symptoms with fever, malaise, headache and fatigue, often with swollen lymph nodes. Skin lesions appear after infection as a rash with small firm or “rubbery” pimples on the face, mouth, eyes, hands, or genitals. In addition to pain in anorectal and sexual regions, sore throat and tonsilitis have also been reported.

Q4. How to prevent the spread of infection? With good personal hygiene, the risk of monkey pox transmission is low. Patients with suspected or confirmed monkeypox infection should be masked immediately, the lesions covered with a drape and placed in isolation. They should avoid close contact with others until the skin lesions have completely healed, which can take several weeks.

V5. Is there testing for Monkeypox? Testing for monkey pox is limited; so individual diagnosis, containment and prevention is challenging. Any unusual “skin lesion” on the face, mouth, hands, and genitals, especially in the anogenital region, should be examined. As with smallpox, people with monkeypox infection must remain in isolation for the duration of the illness, which typically lasts 2 to 4 weeks.

Q6. What is the current treatment for Monkeypox? For most patients, monkeypox is not life-threatening. Mortality is rare. Treatment is symptomatic, including analgesics. Currently, there are no antivirals approved for monkeypox. Tecovirimat, a smallpox drug, is being studied for serious illnesses or cases with comorbid risk factors. This drug is available under the FDA’s Extended Access or Compassionate Use Program.

Currently, 2 vaccines can be used to prevent monkeypox: the JYNNEOS vaccine (FDA approved for smallpox and monkeypox) and ACAM2000 (approved only for smallpox but with extended access for use against monkeypox). Both vaccines can be administered as post-exposure prophylaxis for up to 4 days after exposure.

The virus is not spread by casual contact. Research is underway into the possible spread of monkeypox in the air and in the respiratory tract. In general, good hygiene and healthy lifestyle practices (such as those learned from COVID-19) can protect people from the viral disease.

dr. Samba Reddy (US)

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