Monkeypox cases have been growing rapidly worldwide, and the World Health Organization now calls it an international public health emergency.
In January 2020, WHO declared a global health emergency in response to the growing number of COVID cases. Two months later, WHO declared a pandemic.
The WHO declaration means the United Nations agency thinks monkeypox is a threat that requires international cooperation to prevent a pandemic, CNBC reported. CNBC said the WHO can only advise member states on what to do, and not mandate it.
WHO stated in late June that monkeypox should be monitored closely, but did not warrant declaration as a global emergency. A WHO report noted a 77% increase in confirmed infections from late June to early July, according to CNBC.
There has been monkeypox endemic in Western Africa for years, but smallpox-like infections started appearing this spring in Europe and the United States, where they did not occur before.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday that more than 14,000 cases have been identified globally, according to the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. More than 2100 cases have been recorded in the United Kingdom. Five people have died in Africa.
CDC said Friday that more than 2,891 confirmed monkeypox cases have been reported across the country, with cases reported in most states but six.
The majority of cases occurred in urban areas and involved men who had sexual contact with other men, according to health authorities. People who had recently traveled to Africa were among the first to contract the disease in the West.
What is monkeypox?
The monkeypox virus, contracted from wild animals in Africa, is a rare, usually mild infection. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say it was discovered in 1958 when two pox-like outbreaks occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the first human case of monkeypox was discovered in 1970.
Orthopoxvirus belongs to the same genus as the variola virus (the agent of smallpox).
In addition to monkeys, squirrels, Gambian pouched rats, and dormice have also tested positive for the infection.Despite the fact that the disease is endemic to West and Central Africa, mainly tropical rainforests inhabited by the virus’ carriers, its spread into other parts of the globe is a cause for concern.
A number of countries in Central and Western Africa have detected the virus since its discovery in 1970, including Cameroon, Gote d’lvoire, Gabon, Liberia, Central African Republic, Nigeria, Republic of Congo & Sierra. The most cases are reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo.Recent international travel has also spread the disease to Israel, the US, Singapore, and the UK.
Symptoms of monkeypox
It is possible for someone to have monkeypox without exhibiting any symptoms. Early symptoms include headache, fever, muscle pains, and fatigue, which are similar to flu symptoms. Within a few days of onset of the fever, lesions first appear on the face, then spread to other areas such as the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. This disease resembles chicken pox, measles, and smallpox, but is distinguishable by the presence of swollen glands located behind the ear, below the jawline, in the neck, and in the groin before the onset of rashes. There were many cases of monkeypox in the 2022 outbreak characterized by genital and peri-anal lesions, fever, swollen lymph nodes, and swallowing pain, although some patients only had a single sore from the disease.
More than three-quarters of affected people have lesions on their palms and soles, more than two-thirds have lesions in the mouth, a third on the genitals, and one in five have lesions in their eyes. In the beginning, they appear as small flat spots, before becoming small bumps filled with clear fluid, then yellow fluid, which rupture and scab over. One may find a few lesions or hundreds or thousands, sometimes merging to create larger lesions.
The lesions appear in the same stage in all affected parts of the body. The rash looks similar to that of smallpox. People who are ill may stay ill for up to four weeks. A rash typically lasts about ten days. When the lesions heal, they may leave pale marks before turning dark scars.
Why does it spread so quickly?
It is possible for monkeypox to spread from person to person in different ways.
- Contact with scabs, rash, or body fluids caused by an infectious disease.
- Vivid respirations during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex.
- Contact with items (such as clothing or linens) that have previously touched an infected rash or body fluids. pregnant women may transmit the virus to their unborn children through the placenta.
- People can also contract monkeypox from infected animals, either by being scratched or bitten by the animal or by preparing or eating meat or using products from infected animals.
From the time symptoms begin until the rash has fully healed and a new layer of skin has formed, monkeypox can spread. Those without monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus. Monkeypox generally lasts 2-4 weeks. We do not yet know if monkeypox can spread through semen or vaginal fluids.
Steps for Prevention
- Try to stay away from people with rashes that resemble monkeypox.
- Avoid touching a monkeypox sufferer’s rash or scabs.
- Avoid kissing, hugging, cuddling or having sex with anyone who has monkeypox.
- Don’t share eating utensils with someone who has monkeypox.
- Avoid handling or touching bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or with alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
- If traveling to Central or West Africa, avoid being near animals that can spread the monkeypox virus, such as rodents and primates. It is also wise to avoid bedding or other items touched by these animals.
In order to treat monkeypox, you should follow these steps:
- Isolate yourself at home
- Stay away from people and pets that you live with if you have an active rash or other symptoms.
Is there a vaccine?
Yes, a vaccine has recently been approved for the prevention of monkeypox. Vaccination is recommended in some countries for persons at risk. Research over the years has led to the development of newer and safer vaccines for an eradicated disease called smallpox, which may also be useful for monkeypox. There is one vaccine approved for the prevention of monkey pox, but only those who are at risk should consider it (for example, someone who has close contact with people who have monkey pox). At this time, mass vaccination is not recommended.
In the past, evidence suggested the smallpox vaccine prevented monkeypox, but there is a lack of data on the effectiveness of more recent smallpox/monkeypox vaccines in preventing monkeypox in clinical practice and in field settings. It would be possible for information to be rapidly generated about monkeypox vaccine effectiveness in different settings if vaccines for monkeypox were studied wherever they were used.