What to Know About the Monkeypox Epidemic



What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a viral disease that is related to smallpox, but its symptoms are usually less severe. It has been known to scientists since 1958, when it was discovered in laboratory monkeys employed for research. The monkeypox virus is mainly prevalent in Central and West Africa. However, health officials began reporting an epidemic of the virus outside of Africa in May 2022.

The World Health Organization (WHO) had documented over 100 cases throughout many European nations, as well as Australia and Canada, as of late May 2022. One case had been confirmed by the CDC in the United States.

Monkeypox is a zoonotic virus, meaning it can be transmitted from animals to people. It's been detected in various primates and rodents in Africa, in addition to monkeys. People can, however, pass it on to one another. In 1970, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the first human infection was discovered.

How Does Monkeypox Spread?

While monkeypox is less contagious than smallpox, it is spread through intimate contact in the same way. It can be passed to you by someone who is infected with it via:

- Droplets in your lungs that you inhale

- Contact with bodily fluids such as blood and sperm

- They were exposed to monkeypox sores on their skin (including inside their nose and mouth.)

 - Things that have come into contact with infectious bodily fluids, such as bedding or clothing (This happens less often.)

If you are bitten or scratched by an infected animal, the virus can be transmitted to you. It can also be contracted by eating raw, infected meat.

The virus can enter your body through a skin break (which you may be unaware of) or through your mouth, nose, or eyes. You can take it in by breathing it in, but you'd have to be in close proximity for a long time. Because most droplets don't travel very far, this is the case.

Monkeypox isn't officially a sexually transmitted infection (STI) because it can be contracted through other means. People infected with monkeypox, on the other hand, can pass it on during sex. According to WHO experts, the majority of the cases in May 2022 were sexually transmitted, particularly among men who have sex with men.

What are the signs and symptoms?

The disease, which has a six-to-16-day incubation period, causes sufferers to experience fever, headaches, swellings, back pain, aching muscles, and overall listlessness in the early stages. After that, the sufferer will develop a skin eruption, in which a rash appears on the face, then spreads to the rest of the body, most typically the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

"The fundamental difference between smallpox and monkeypox symptoms is that monkeypox causes lymph nodes to expand (lymphadenopathy), but smallpox does not," according to the CDC.

Because of its superficial resemblance to other diseases that create a rash, including as chickenpox, measles, scabies, and syphilis, the virus can be difficult to detect without the use of laboratory analysis.

Is it really so dangerous?

Monkeypox "does not travel easily between people and the overall risk to the general public is quite minimal," according to Dr Colin Brown, director of clinical and emerging diseases at the UKHSA.

Professor Jimmy Whitworth of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine concurred with that assessment, but said that while monkeypox is "generally mild," it is "a good precaution" to track down and follow up on anybody who may have come into contact with these recent cases.

Dr. Michael Head, a senior research fellow in global health at the University of Southampton, admits that there are "current gaps in our knowledge," but adds that "anything more than a handful of cases in any outbreak" would be "very unusual," and that "we won't be seeing Covid-style levels of transmission."

Prevention OR Treatment

The CDC suggests using smallpox vaccine, antivirals, and vaccinia immune globulin to suppress a monkeypox outbreak in the United States (VIG).

Because the virus that causes monkeypox is closely linked to the virus that causes smallpox, the smallpox vaccine can also protect people from monkeypox. Previous research from Africa suggests that the smallpox vaccine is at least 85 percent effective in preventing monkeypox, according to the CDC. Vaccination following a monkeypox encounter, according to experts, may help prevent or lessen the severity of the disease.

Outside of Africa, however, the WHO believes that measures such as excellent cleanliness and safe sexual conduct will help restrict the spread of the monkeypox pandemic. Currently, some countries are only administering immunization to persons who are at high risk of contracting smallpox and/or monkeypox.

In the Philippines, impartial specialists will assess the safety and efficacy of existing vaccines, as well as those in the development stage, to ensure that they are safe to use when the time comes.

The Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) and its members are keeping a close eye on global and local trends and working closely with partners to determine the best course of action. Members of the PHAP are also working with the Department of Health to prepare for this health hazard, ensuring that vaccines and diagnostics are available in the country if and when they are needed.

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