What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare disease that has been causing concern among healthcare professionals and the general public in recent years. Despite the name, the disease does not only affect monkeys but also other animals and humans. Monkeypox is caused by a virus that is similar to but less dangerous than the virus that causes smallpox.
The disease was first identified in 1958 when outbreaks occurred in monkeys kept for research purposes in Africa. It wasn’t until 1970 that the first human case of monkeypox was reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since then, the disease has been sporadically reported in other parts of Africa, as well as in the United States, Europe, and Asia.
Monkeypox is characterized by fever, headache, muscle aches, and a rash that usually starts on the face and then spreads to other parts of the body. In some cases, the skin rashes may become pustular and cause scarring. Although most people with Mpox recover without complications, the disease can be severe in some cases, especially in people with weak immune systems.
Despite being a rare disease, the potential for monkeypox to cause outbreaks and public health concerns has led to increased attention and research in recent years. Public health officials and healthcare providers are working to better understand the disease and how to prevent its spread.
How does the MPox virus spread?
Monkeypox is a zoonotic disease, which means it is transmitted to humans from animals. The virus is found in animals such as monkeys, squirrels, and rodents, and can be transmitted to humans through close contact with infected animals or their bodily fluids.
Here are some ways the monkeypox virus can spread:
- Direct contact with an infected animal: Handling, killing, or eating infected animals (such as monkeys or rodents) can put a person at risk of getting infected with the virus.
- Contact with an infected person: Monkeypox can also spread from person to person through respiratory droplets, bodily fluids, or skin lesions of an infected person. This can occur through close contact with an infected person, such as caring for them or living in the same household.
- Contaminated objects: The virus can survive on surfaces or objects that have been contaminated with the bodily fluids of an infected person or animal. Touching or handling contaminated objects (such as bedding, clothing, or equipment) can also spread the virus.
- Person-to-person transmission during the early stages of infection: The monkeypox virus is most contagious during the early stages of infection when symptoms such as fever and rash first appear. During this time, an infected person is more likely to spread the virus to others through close contact or respiratory droplets. As the infection progresses, the risk of transmission decreases.
- Airborne transmission: Although rare, the monkeypox virus can also spread through airborne transmission. This occurs when the virus is inhaled through respiratory droplets, such as those released when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Airborne transmission is more likely to occur in crowded or poorly ventilated settings, such as hospitals or prisons.
It’s important to note that the risk of contracting monkeypox is low, and outbreaks of the disease are rare.
Signs and symptoms of Monkeypox disease
Monkeypox disease is a rare but potentially serious viral infection that can cause a range of symptoms. Here are some of the most common monkeypox symptoms:
- Fever: The first symptom of monkeypox disease is usually a fever, which can range from mild to a high-grade fever.
- Headache: Many people with monkeypox disease experience headaches, which can be severe in some cases.
- Rash: A rash is one of the hallmark symptoms of monkeypox The rash usually starts on the face and then spreads to other parts of the body. The rash may progress to fluid-filled blisters that can become pustular and cause scarring. In some cases, a pimple-like lesion can also be present.
- Muscle aches: Monkeypox disease can cause muscle aches, which may be widespread or localized to a specific area of the body.
- Fatigue: Many people with monkeypox disease experience fatigue, which can be severe in some cases.
Other monkeypox symptoms can include swollen lymph nodes, chills, and sweats. In severe cases, the disease can cause serious complications such as pneumonia or encephalitis which is the inflammation of the brain.
How long do Monkeypox symptoms last?
The duration of Monkeypox symptoms can vary depending on the individual and the severity of the infection. Here’s a breakdown of the typical duration of each symptom:
- Fever: The fever associated with monkeypox disease typically lasts for 1-2 weeks. In some cases, the fever may be mild and go unnoticed, while in others, it can be high and last for several days.
- Rash: The rash associated with monkeypox disease usually lasts for 2-4 weeks. The rash may progress through several stages, starting with flat, red lesions that later become raised, fluid-filled blisters that eventually crust over. The rash often starts on the face and spreads to other parts of the body, including the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
- Pimple-like lesion: A pimple or lesion is a key symptom of monkeypox disease and typically lasts for 1-2 weeks. The lesion can appear anywhere on the body and is often one of the earliest signs of the disease. The lesion may be itchy and can become filled with fluid or pus.
- Swollen lymph nodes: Swollen lymph nodes are common in mpox disease and may persist for several weeks after the onset of symptoms. Lymph nodes in the groin, armpit, and neck are most commonly affected.
- Other symptoms: Other symptoms of monkeypox disease, such as headache, muscle aches, and fatigue, can persist for several weeks after the onset of symptoms. In some cases, individuals may also experience cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain.
However, the duration of symptoms can vary from person to person, and some individuals may experience symptoms for longer periods of time.
What are the treatments for Monkeypox disease?
Currently, there is no specific monkeypox treatment. However, several treatments can help manage the symptoms and support the body’s immune system:
- Antiviral Medications: Antiviral medications may be used to treat severe cases of monkeypox These medications, such as cidofovir, work by inhibiting the replication of the virus, which can help reduce the severity of symptoms. However, antiviral treatment is not always recommended for mild cases, as the side effects can outweigh the benefits.
- Vaccination: Vaccination against smallpox can provide some protection against monkeypox, as the two viruses are closely related. The smallpox vaccine is no longer routinely administered, but it is still available in case of an outbreak or for individuals who are at high risk of exposure to monkeypox, such as laboratory workers or healthcare professionals.
- Infection Control Measures: Infection control measures, such as isolation precautions and proper hand hygiene, are essential to prevent the spread of monkeypox Individuals who are suspected of having monkeypox should be isolated and treated using strict infection control protocols. This includes wearing personal protective equipment, such as gloves and masks, and disinfecting all surfaces that may have come into contact with the virus.
- Supportive Care: Supportive care, such as pain relief medication and fluids, can help manage the symptoms of monkeypox In severe cases, hospitalization may be required to monitor and manage complications. Supportive care can also help prevent secondary bacterial infections, which can occur when the skin lesions are open.
If you think monkeypox is just a disease that exists in movies, think again. It’s a real and serious viral illness that can affect anyone, anywhere.
But don’t worry, there are ways to protect yourself and manage the symptoms if you’re affected. The first step is to be aware of the signs and symptoms of monkeypox and to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you suspect you may have been exposed.
And to take it a step further, why not proactively take care of your health and skin by finding a local dermatologist? You can visit our ‘find local dermatologist’ page and search for a dermatologist near you. The dermatologist will not only guide you but in case you suffer from scarring left by lesions or rashes caused by the virus, they can also suggest appropriate treatment to help improve the appearance of the scars.
So let’s take control of our health and stay informed. Let’s be proactive, not reactive. Together, we can beat monkeypox and any other challenges that come our way.
FAQs on Mpox Virus
1) What happens if you get monkeypox?
If you get monkeypox, you experience symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion. A rash then typically develops, often beginning on the face and then spreading to other parts of the body.
2) Does monkeypox go away?
Yes, monkeypox does go away. Most people who contract the virus will recover within a few weeks without any complications. However, some people may experience more severe symptoms or complications that require medical attention.
3) Is monkeypox itchy?
Yes, the rash associated with monkeypox can be itchy. The rash typically begins on the face and then spreads to other parts of the body, often including the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. The rash progresses to pustules, which then crust and eventually fall off.
4) How can you protect yourself from monkeypox?
You can protect yourself from monkeypox by taking simple precautions, such as washing your hands frequently, avoiding contact with sick people or animals, and wearing protective clothing when handling animals or animal products. Additionally, getting vaccinated against smallpox can also provide some protection against monkeypox.
5) What kills monkeypox?
There is currently no specific medication or treatment that can cure monkeypox. However, supportive care can help manage symptoms and prevent complications. Additionally, proper hygiene and infection control measures can help prevent the spread of the virus.