What is the monkeypox virus?
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus. It causes flu-like symptoms and a rash. It is a member of the orthopoxvirus family, which also includes the more well-known smallpox virus.
About the virus
Within the Poxviridae virus family, the monkeypox virus is a member of the Orthopoxvirus genus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the viruses that cause variola (smallpox), cowpox, and camelpox are also members of the Orthopoxvirus genus (CDC).
The West African clades and the Congo Basin clade are two separate clades, or genetically related lineages, of monkeypox viruses, according to the World Health Organization (also called the Central African clade). Evidence suggests that the Congo Basin clade is more likely than the West African clade to cause severe and deadly diseases and may also be more transmissible.
History of the virus
According to the WHO, experimental monkeys at the Statens Serum Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark, contracted a disease that resembled pox in 1958, leading to the discovery of monkeypox. 1970 saw the discovery of the first known human case in a 9-month-old boy who resided in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Monkeypox epidemic in 2022
In May 2022, it was determined that monkeypox, a viral disease, was still on the rise. The first cluster of instances was discovered in the United Kingdom, where the first case was discovered on May 6, 2022, in a person having connections to Nigeria through travel (where the disease is endemic). For the first time outside of Central and West Africa, monkeypox was widely spread during the outbreak. Cases began to be recorded from an expanding number of nations and locations starting on May 18, primarily from Europe but also from North and South America, Asia, Africa, and Australia.  The epidemic was upgraded to a global health emergency on July 23 when the World Health Organization (WHO) designated it as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). As of July 28th, there were a total of 20,846 confirmed cases.
Who does monkeypox affect?
Monkeypox can affect anyone. The majority of cases in Africa involve children under the age of 15. The disease appears to be more prevalent in guys who have intercourse with men outside of Africa, although there are many cases in people who don’t fit that description.
What symptoms and indicators are associated with monkeypox?
It could take days or even weeks after exposure before you experience symptoms. Early indications of monkeypox include symptoms similar to the flu-like:
A rash frequently appears a few days later. The rash initially appears as unpleasant, flat, red pimples. These lumps develop into blisters that ooze pus. The blisters eventually dry out and peel off; the entire process can take two to four weeks. Additionally, ulcers in the mouth, vagina, or anus are possible.
Not every monkeypox patient experiences every symptom. In fact, many cases in the current (2022) outbreak aren’t exhibiting the typical constellation of symptoms. Only a few lesions, no enlarged lymph nodes, a lower fever, and fewer additional symptoms of sickness are present in this unusual presentation. You may possess it without realizing it. However, even if you don’t exhibit many symptoms of infection, you can still spread it to other people.
How is monkeypox spread?
When you come into contact with an animal or a person who is infected with the virus, you could develop monkeypox. Animals can transmit diseases to people by biting or scratching people, or by coming into direct touch with their blood, bodily fluids, or lesions from an affected animal (sores). Although less frequent, monkeypox can spread from person to person. When you come into contact with the sores, scabs, respiratory droplets, or oral secretions of an infected person, person-to-person spread (also known as transmission) happens. This typically happens through close, personal circumstances like hugging, kissing, or intercourse. Although study is ongoing, it is unclear if the virus is spread through semen or vaginal fluids.
You can potentially contract monkeypox by touching recently contaminated items like bedding, clothes, and other linens that were worn by an animal or person with the disease.
Due to the rarity of monkeypox, your healthcare professional could initially identify measles or chickenpox as the origin of your outbreak. However, enlarged lymph nodes typically set monkeypox apart from other poxes.
Your healthcare provider collects tissue from an open sore to diagnose monkeypox (lesion). After that, a lab performs polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing on it (genetic fingerprinting). Additionally, a blood sample may be required to check for the monkeypox virus or antibodies your immune system produces against it.
Can monkeypox be cured?
Typically, monkeypox is a self-limiting illness with symptoms that last between two and four weeks. Monkeypox typically resolves on its own without medical intervention. After a diagnosis, your doctor will keep an eye on your health, try to alleviate your symptoms, prevent dehydration, and administer antibiotics to treat any developing secondary bacterial infections.
Monkeypox does not currently have an approved antiviral therapy. Although they haven’t been researched as a monkeypox treatment, antiviral medications may be helpful. There are a number of investigational antiviral with effectiveness against monkeypox, however, they can only be used in research studies.
Are vaccines effective against it?
Some people might be eligible for the monkeypox vaccine. The CDC reports that the ACAM2000 vaccine, which was first created to combat smallpox, is at least 85% effective at preventing monkeypox when given prior to exposure. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health further states that JYNNEOS, a vaccine authorized for both smallpox and monkeypox, is believed to be similarly protective against the virus based on clinical testing and animal studies.
Although many patients recover without the need for specialized care, there are no medications licensed especially to treat monkeypox. However, in severe situations, patients can be given antiviral drugs meant to treat other illnesses. For instance, they might be given tecovirimat (trade name TPOXX), a smallpox treatment that also fights against other orthopoxviruses, per CDC. Vaccinia Immune Globulin Intravenous (VIGIV), which comprises antibodies extracted from persons whose blood was inoculated with the smallpox vaccine, is another option for treating severe monkeypox infections.
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