Key Facts About Monkeypox Disease
- Monkeypox is a rare viral disease that occurs primarily in parts of Central and West Africa near the tropical rainforest.
- This disease produces pox lesions on the skin and is closely related to smallpox but it is not as deadly as smallpox.
- The monkeypox virus is responsible for monkeypox disease.
- Majority of reported cases are transmitted from animals to humans by direct contact. Human-to-human transmission occurs infrequently.
- Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 during an investigation of pox-like disease in monkeys.
- Some risk factors for monkeypox include close association with animals that have this disease or caring for an infected patient.
- Symptoms of monkeypox are nonspecific and may include fever, nausea, and malaise. After about four to seven days, lesions develop on the face and trunk that ulcerate, crust over and begin to clear up after about 2 to 3 weeks, and lymph nodes enlarge.
- According to WHO, there is no treatment or vaccine available, however, vaccination with smallpox vaccines is highly effective in preventing monkeypox as well
- Monkeypox can be prevented as long as non-infected person prevents direct contact with infected animals and people.
What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare viral disease that was first detected in monkeys and resembles smallpox in terms of pox seen in humans and it is closely related to smallpox (variola) virus.
Monkeypox, smallpox, cowpox and vaccinia viruses all belong to the same family of viruses (Poxviridae). Alongside smallpox, monkeypox belongs to the same genus (Orthopoxvirus).
Despite their similarities, monkeypox is quite different from smallpox with far less mortality rate (death rate).
Their mode of transmission is from animals to person or person-to-person.
Causes of Monkeypox
Monkeypox is a rare viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals) caused by an Orthopoxvirus named monkeypox.
Monkeypox virus is an oval-shaped virus that has a lipoprotein layer with filaments that cover the viral DNA.
Members of this viral genus include variola (smallpox), cowpox, buffalopox, camelpox, rabbitpox and others.
How is Monkeypox Transmitted?
Monkeypox is usually transmitted by direct contact with infected animals or possibly by eating poorly cooked meat from an infected monkey or rodent.
The cutaneous of mucosal lesions of the infected animals is likely source of transmission to humans, especially when the skin is broken due to bites, scratches, or other trauma.
Human-to-human transmission occurs probably by infected respiratory droplets. In some cases, it can occur via skin lesions of an infected person or objects recently contaminated by patient fluids or lesion materials.
Monkeypox can also be transmitted by inoculation or via placenta (congenital monkeypox).
Till date, there is no evidence that person-to-person transmission alone can sustain monkeypox infections in the human population.
A study suggests that about 8%-15% of infections were transmitted human-to-human among close relatives.
Risk Factors for Monkeypox
Monkeypox is a relatively rare viral disease.
Some risk factors include animal bites, scratched from infected animals (mainly monkey or rodents), eating inadequately cooked meat of an infected animal.
Person-to-person transmission can be reduced or prevented by avoiding direct physical contact with infected persons and having caregivers wear gloves and face masks.
Signs and Symptoms of Monkeypox
The incubation period of this virus (interval from infection to onset of symptoms) is usually from 6 to 16 days but can range from 5 to 21 days.
The first noticeable symptoms although not specific include
About 2 to 5 days after a fever develops, a rash with papules and pustules develops most often on the face, palm of the hand and sole of the feet but other parts of the body may be subsequently affected including mucous membrane inside the mouth and nose.
In addition, there is lymphadenopathy (swelling of the nodes) during this time.
Diagnosis of Monkeypox
Differential diagnosis may be considered including other rash illnesses such as chickenpox, smallpox, measles, scabies, bacterial skin infections, syphilis and medication-associated allergies.
Laboratory diagnosis may be carried out using a number of different tests;
- Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA techniques)
- Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay
- Antigen detection tests
- Virus isolation by cell culture
- Western blotting tests (immunoblotting)
Treatment for Monkeypox
According to WHO, there are no specific treatments or vaccines available for monkeypox infection, but outbreaks can be controlled. Smallpox vaccination has been proven to be 85% effective in preventing monkeypox in the past.
For treatment of monkeypox;
- A smallpox vaccination should be administered within 14 days of exposure to monkeypox.
- Cidofovir (Vistide), an antiviral drug is recommended for patients with severe life-threatening symptoms.
- Vaccinia immune globulin may also be administered but its efficacy has not been documented.
Consultation with an infectious-disease expert and centers for disease control (CDC) is recommended.
How to Prevent Monkeypox
- Monkeypox can be prevented by avoiding eating or coming in contact with animals known to acquire this virus.
- Patients who are infected should physically isolate themselves until all the pox lesions have healed.
- Caregivers should use gloves and face masks to avoid any direct or droplet contact.
- Regular washing of hand should be carried out after caring for or visiting an infected patient.
- Be informed, whenever there is a disease outbreak, there is always a routine update on containment and spread of the disease