With more than 90 cases of monkeypox confirmed in at least 12 countries, health officials have warned that all the necessary precautions should be put in place to offset any spread of the disease.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), monkeypox is a viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals) with symptoms very similar to those seen in the past in smallpox patients, although it is clinically less severe.
It noted that with the eradication of smallpox in 1980 and subsequent cessation of smallpox vaccination, monkeypox has emerged as the most important orthopoxvirus for public health.
Additionally, it stated that monkeypox primarily occurs in Central and West Africa, often in proximity to tropical rainforests, and has been increasingly appearing in urban areas. Animal hosts include a range of rodents and non-human primates.
The health organization list the following as some of the key facts about the disease:
- Monkeypox is caused by the monkeypox virus, a member of the Orthopoxvirus genus in the family Poxviridae.
- Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease that occurs primarily in tropical rainforest areas of Central and West Africa and is occasionally exported to other regions.
- Monkeypox typically presents clinically with fever, rash, and swollen lymph nodes and may lead to a range of medical complications.
- Monkeypox is usually a self-limited disease with symptoms lasting from 2 to 4 weeks. Severe cases can occur. In recent times, the case fatality ratio has been around 3-6%.
- Monkeypox is transmitted to humans through close contact with an infected person or animal, or with material contaminated with the virus.
- Monkeypox virus is transmitted from one person to another by close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets, and contaminated materials such as bedding.
- The clinical presentation of monkeypox resembles that of smallpox, a related orthopoxvirus infection that was declared eradicated worldwide in 1980. Monkeypox is less contagious than smallpox and causes less severe illness.
- Vaccines used during the smallpox eradication program also provided protection against monkeypox. Newer vaccines have been developed of which one has been approved for the prevention of monkeypox
- An antiviral agent developed for the treatment of smallpox has also been licensed for the treatment of monkeypox.
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Edited by Jesus Chan
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