Monkeypox is a zoonotic disease and is mostly transmitted to people from wild animals such as rodents and primates, however, human-to-human transmission is also possible. Monkeypox cases, both suspected as well as confirmed, continue to rise in several nations. It is a rare disease and is similar to other poxviruses like the virus that leads to smallpox. This is the first time this virus has been found outside of Africa.
With the WHO declaring Monkeypox a global public health emergency of international concern and India reporting cases of the disease, experts said there is no need to panic as it is less contagious and rarely fatal.
Monkeypox can be passed on from person to person through:
- Any close physical contact or towels used by someone with monkeypox blisters or scabs (including sexual contact, kissing, cuddling or holding hands).
- Touching, clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with Monkeypox
- Coughs or sneezes of a person with Monkeypox when they are close to you.
You’re extremely unlikely to have monkeypox if:
- You have not been in close contact with an infected person.
- You have not recently travelled to countries with high prevalence.
Who can get it:
- Any one can get monkeypox.
- However, because most cases reported till date involve men who are gay or bisexual or men who have sex with other men, it’s particularly important for people of these groups to be aware.
Symptoms of Monkeypox:
If you get infected with monkeypox, it usually takes between 5 to 21 days for the first symptoms to appear. The first symptoms of Monkeypox include:
- High Temperature
- Muscle aches
- Swollen glands
- Shivering (chills)
- A rash usually appears 1 to 5 days after the first symptom. The rash can be found on the face, palms of the hands, soles of the feet, eyes, mouth, throat, genitals and anus region of the body.
- Symptoms typically last two to three weeks and usually go away on their own. While you have symptoms, you can pass monkeypox on to other people.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU COME IN CONTACT WITH MONKEYPOX?
“A smallpox vaccination, if given within 4 days, can prevent disease. Although vaccination can be considered for up to 14 days of exposure, if given between days 4 and 14, vaccination is thought to reduce the symptoms of disease but NOT prevent the disease,” said Dr. Dhiren Gupta, (Intensivist and Senior Consultant at Sir Gangaram Hospital). Indicated treatment suggests – Those with severe disease and those at risk for severe disease (eg, those younger than 8 years of age, pregnant or breastfeeding women, patients with complications of the infection, immunocompromised patients). “At this time, tecovirimat is the treatment of choice, although some experts may suggest dual therapy with tecovirimat and cidofovir in patients with severe disease,” says Dr Gupta. However, experts also say few people require active intervention through medical treatment in younger people.
HOW CAN YOU PREVENT THE SPREAD?
Isolate yourself to room for three weeks till all lesions scab fall.
The incubation period of monkeypox virus infection is usually from 5 to 13 days but can range from 4 to 21 days.
VACCINES AGAINST MONKEYPOX
There are two available vaccines that can reduce the risk of developing monkeypox. The modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) vaccine (JYNNEOS in the United States, IMVANEX in the European Union, and IMVAMUNE in Canada) and ACAM2000 vaccine. “The small pox vaccine only provides 82-85% protection against monkeypox. Even anti viral that has been recommended has no proven efficacy,” said Dr.Sanjay Rai, (Professor, Community Medicine at AIIMS).
“Vaccines are also not free of complications – the vaccines are also known to have serious side effects they are not to be used randomly,” said Dr Giridhar Babu(Epidemiologist, Physician Scientist) India could need to stockpile these vaccines for any impending emergency in the future. “Indian vaccine stockpile for smallpox was abandoned after the eradication of smallpox. We need a renewed focus on having vaccine stocks.” he said.
NO NEED TO PANIC, LOW MORTALITY RATE
“Monkeypox is a self-limiting disease with low mortality. Doesn’t leads to scarring unless immunocompromised, said Dr Gupta, adding, “Those who were born before 1977 likely to have received smallpox vaccination and should offer some protection.”
Dr Rai also points out over the years, the rate of mortality has been low. “A person’s immunity is reduced. 0-10% deaths are reported in the last many years in Africa. Recently, 3% deaths have ben reported in Africa,” he said.
- Wash your hands with soap and water regularly or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
- Talk to partners about their sexual health and any symptoms they may have.
- Take a break from sex and intimate contact if you have symptoms of monkeypox.
- Do not share bedding or towels with people who have monkeypox.
- Do not have close contact (within 1 metre) with people who may have monkeypox.
- Do not go near wild or stray animals, including that appear unwell or are dead, while travelling to countries with high caseload.
- The disease is usually self-limiting, meaning symptoms usually go away without the need for treatment.
- Some people may require antibiotics and analgesics to treat secondary infections and local pain.
- A new vaccine has been approved for the prevention of Monkeypox, and smallpox vaccine has also been demonstrated to provide protection. However these vaccines are not widely available.
Ref – World Health Organization