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What Is Monkeypox? Know Symptoms, Cause And Treatment

As 75 countries across the world reported more than 16,000 case of monkeypox till July 23, the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Saturday declared the monkeypox outbreak as a public health emergency.

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This 1997 image provided by the CDC during an investigation into an outbreak of monkeypox, which took place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), formerly Zaire, and depicts the dorsal surfaces of the hands of a monkeypox case patient. (Photo Credit: AP/PTI)

Monkeypox is a contagious pox-like disease that spreads through the monkeypox virus. A zoonotic disease, the virus was first reported in macaque monkeys at a research facility in Denmark in 1958.

As 75 countries across the world reported more than 16,000 case of monkeypox till July 23, the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Saturday declared the monkeypox outbreak as a public health emergency. There have been five reported deaths due to the monkeypox virus so far.

“We have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly, through new modes of transmission, about which we understand too little, and which meets the criteria in the International Health Regulations. For all of these reasons, I have decided that the global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Symptoms Of Monkeypox

While infections of monkeypox virus are usually mild, the illness could last 2-4 weeks, starting from the time symptoms begin till the rashes heal and a new layer of skin has formed. The most prominent symptom of monkeypox is pimple-like bumps on the skin. Other initial symptoms of monkeypox include:

  • high fever and chills
  • headache, muscle ache and backache
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • blistery, chickenpox-like rash or lesions – often on the mouth or genitals

How Does Monkeypox Spread

The monkeypox virus can spread from one person from beginning of the symptoms begin until the rash has fully healed. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the monkeypox virus can spread through:

  • Direct contact with body fluids, sores, rash
  • Items such as contaminated clothing and bedding
  • Close contact between people through respiratory droplets, typically in a close setting
  • Pregnant people can transmit the virus to their fetus through placenta
  • From infected animals, if scratched or bitten by the animal
  • Preparing or eating meat or using products from an infected animal

Does Monkeypox Spread Sexually

While the CDC has not yet establish if monkeypox can spread through semen or vaginal fluids, several cases of the disease have been reported among men who have had sex with other men.

Declaring a public health emergency of international concern, WHO Director-General Ghebreyesus said “for the moment this is an outbreak that is concentrated among men who have sex with men, especially those with multiple sexual partners.”

“That means that this is an outbreak that can be stopped with the right strategies in the right groups. It’s therefore essential that all countries work closely with communities of men who have sex with men, to design and deliver effective information and services, and to adopt measures that protect the health, human rights and dignity of affected communities,” the WHO chief said.

Warning against stigma and discrimination, Ghebreyesus underlined that these can be as dangerous as any virus.

Treatment Of Monkeypox

Currently, there are no treatments available for monkeypox infection. However, according to the CDC, the monkeypox virus is genetically similar to the smallpox virus, and hence, the antiviral drugs and vaccines developed against smallpox could be used to prevent and treat monkeypox virus infections.

ALSO READ: Monkeypox And The Unwillingness To Label It A Sexually Transmitted Disease