Monkey pox: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Introduction

Monkeypox is an infectious disease that is similar to smallpox, and it’s found in parts of Africa.

Monkeypox has been seen in other parts of the world, and causes flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills.

There is no proven treatment for monkeypox, however it usually goes away on its own.

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus. Like the better known virus that causes smallpox, it is classified as an orthopoxvirus.

Symptoms of this disease include rash and flu-like symptoms.

Monkeypox virus is a virus found in groups of monkeys being used for research, which then started to infect humans.

It was discovered in 1958 and is now seen everywhere, including Africa. There are two types (strains) of this virus:

1. Central African strains

2. West African strains.

The Central African strains cause more severe infections and are more likely to cause death than the West African strains.

How widespread is monkeypox?

The number of cases in Africa are on the rise. Monkeypox is rarer than Small Pox.

People get monkeypox if they were not vaccinated against smallpox, but now that smallpox has been eradicated with vaccination, they are unprotected.

Where is monkeypox found besides Africa?

The DRC is the nearly exclusive home of the Monkeypox virus. But it has been known to be found in other countries, as well.

In 2003, it was first seen in the US after infected rodents from Ghana made their way into Texas and infected 47 people.

Then, in 2021, it was seen again in this country when an American citizen who had traveled from Nigeria to the US contracted monkeypox there.

Who are at Risk of Monkeypox?

People of any age can contract monkeypox, but it is most common in children.

Of cases in Africa, 90% are found among those under the age of 15.

Symptoms of Monkey Pox

Monkeypox is a virus that causes pus-filled blisters to form. The blisters crust and fall off after several days.

What signs and symptoms can I look out for?

Symptoms of monkeypox are similar to but less severe than smallpox. Early symptoms consist of flu-like ailments such as:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion

A rash will eventually form, often starting on your face before spreading to other parts of your body, including the palms of hands and soles of feet.

The rashes start as peeling red bumps that becomes pus-filled blisters, which in turn crust over and fall off in a few days.

How do you catch monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a type of virus transmitted from animals to humans. It can be spread from animal bites and scratches, or by contact with animal blood, fluids or sores.

Monkeypox can spread from person to person, but this is less common. The person-to-person transfer of the virus occurs when you come in contact with virus particles through another person’s saliva or respiratory droplets.

This usually happens when an infected person sneezes or coughs and the airborne droplets come in contact with a nearby person.

You may also get it by touching those infected by the virus on their lesions or through close face-to-face contact with them.

You can get monkeypox by coming into contact with materials containing this virus. These materials may include things like bedding, clothing, or other items used by an infected person or animal.

How TO Detect Monkey Pox

Your healthcare provider may first think that you have a common rash such as measles, chicken pox and small pox because monkeypox is so rare.

However, swollen lymph nodes distinguish monkeypox from other poxes.

To diagnose monkeypox your healthcare provider takes a tissue sample and looks at it through a microscope. They can also take blood and test for the monkeypox virus or antibodies your immune system has made against two different types of protein found in the virus.

Treatment of Monkeypox

There is no cure for monkeypox.

Antiviral drugs may help in some cases, but healthcare providers are still unsure if administration of these medications can slow the progression of the disease in those with the infection.

These drugs have not been studied as a treatment for monkeypox, but rather as a means to alleviate symptoms.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) monitors outbreaks and has options available to slow the spread of the disease with medication and smallpox vaccines.

Monkey Pox Prevention

1. To prevent monkeypox, you need to decrease human contact with infected animals and limit person-to-person spread.

2. The smallpox vaccine can provide protection against monkeypox, but it is usually limited to people who work in a lab with the variola (smallpox) virus.

3. Avoid contact with sick or dead animals.

4. Avoid contact with material contaminated by the Monkeypox virus.

5. After coming into contact with an infected animal, wash your hands with soap and water.

6. For best prevention, thoroughly cook all foods that contain animal meat or parts.

7. Avoid contact with people who have monkey pox.

8. Use Personal protective equipment when caring for people with monkey pox

PROGNOSIS

If you are exposed to monkeypox, it will take about two to four weeks for the virus to take its course. Your provider may monitor you for 21 days in order to reduce the risk of serious consequences associated.

Monkeypox is milder than smallpox, but it can still be fatal. Up to 10% of people infected with monkeypox will die from the virus.

Monkeypox is rare and only prevalent in specific regions, but it can spread to the United States.

Early symptoms include a fever, chills and aches. Later on there’s a rash that develops.

The disease is milder than smallpox but needs to be treated as soon as possible with proper medical treatment.

References:

Strengthening of Surveillance during Monkeypox Outbreak, Republic of the Congo, 2017External.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Source: Emerg Infect Dis. 2018;24(6):1158-1160.

Reemergence of Human Monkeypox in Nigeria, 2017External.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Source: Emerg Infect Dis. 2018;24(6):1149-1151.

Multistate outbreak of monkeypox—Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, 2003.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Source: MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2003 Jun 13;52(23):537-540.

Responding to an Outbreak of Monkeypox Using the One Health Approach — Nigeria, 2017–2018External.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Source: MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2018;67:1040–1041.

Emergence of Monkeypox — West and Central Africa, 1970–2017External.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Source: MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2018;67:306–310.

 

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