Monkeypox instances that are “rare and unusual” are prompting worldwide alarm
On Wednesday, the United States reported a case of monkeypox in Massachusetts, an uncommon disease generally found in Africa. In the United Kingdom, Portugal, and Spain, a small number of confirmed or suspected cases have lately been recorded.
Public health professionals all throughout the world are concerned about the unexpected increase in instances. The World Health Organization announced on Wednesday that it would send an incident team to the UK to deal with the outbreak.
Dr. Anne W. Rimoin, a professor of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, told USA TODAY, “Monkeypox normally does not occur globally.” Such epidemics are “rare and exceptional,” according to Rimoin, who has studied monkeypox and other infectious diseases in Central Africa extensively.
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while most people recover from the virus, it can be hazardous and fatal in some situations.
What exactly is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is an uncommon disease caused by the same virus family as smallpox. According to the CDC, the virus was initially detected in 1958 in study monkey colonies.
The first human instance of the virus was discovered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970. The majority of monkeypox cases still happen there today, but the disease has been documented in a number of other Central and Western African nations, according to the CDC.
What causes transmission?
Monkeypox is transmitted to humans by diseased animals such as rodents. The World Health Organization stated that human-to-human transmission is feasible but uncommon. Contaminated items might potentially spread the infection.
The primary disease carrier for monkeypox is uncertain, while some researchers believe African rodents are involved in transmission, according to the CDC.
People in portions of central and West Africa can contract the virus from rodent bites or scratches, preparing wild game, or coming into contact with an infected animal or animal goods.
Although human-to-human transmission occurs most commonly through big respiratory droplets, the virus is difficult to transfer between people. According to the CDC, because those droplets can only travel a few feet, continuous face-to-face contact is required to spread monkeypox.
What do monkeypox symptoms look like?
According to the CDC, monkeypox usually starts with flu-like symptoms and enlarged lymph nodes. Monkeypox symptoms are comparable to smallpox symptoms but are usually milder.
Fever, muscle pains, chills, and weariness are common early symptoms. A rash similar to chickenpox and smallpox might appear in more severe cases, usually on the face and genitals.
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Painful, itchy sores can appear all over the body, eventually turning into scabs and flaking off.
Symptoms of monkeypox usually appear seven to fourteen days after infection, according to the CDC. Typically, the disease lasts several weeks.
What is the risk of monkeypox?
According to the World Health Organization, most people recover from monkeypox within weeks, although the condition can be fatal.
The virus has been divided into two groups: the West African clade and the Congo Basin clade. The West African clade is less deadly, with just around 1% of infections resulting in death. According to the World Health Organization, the Congo Basin clade can kill one out of every ten people who develop the disease.
While the evidence is still preliminary, Rimoin believes the current outbreaks are linked to a less-lethal West African lineage
Is there a monkeypox vaccine?
Yes. Monkeypox is treated with a vaccine derived for smallpox, and numerous antivirals appear to be successful. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no established, safe treatment for monkeypox virus infection.
The elimination of smallpox, according to Rimoin, has left the world vulnerable to epidemics of similar viruses such as monkeypox. Because smallpox immunizations aren’t readily available, millions of people around the world are immune to the disease.
Have there ever been epidemics of monkeypox in the United States?
Monkeypox instances in the United States are extremely rare, according to the CDC. According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the case in Massachusetts on Wednesday is the first monkeypox case in the United States this year.
In 2021, people who travelled to Nigeria in Texas and Maryland each reported a case.
According to the CDC, 47 confirmed and probable cases of monkeypox were discovered in six states in 2003: Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Pet prairie dogs were infected after being housed near imported tiny mammals from Ghana, according to officials.