What is Monkeypox and how dangerous is it? Cases are on the rise worldwide

An image taken during an investigation of a monkeypox outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1996 to 1997 shows the arm and torso of a patient with a skin lesion caused by the monkeypox. Handout via CDC / Brian WJ Mahy / ReUTERS This image was provided by a third party.

CDC | Brian WJ Mahi | Reuters

Health authorities in Europe, the United States and Australia are investigating a recent outbreak of monkeypox, a rare viral disease typically confined to Africa.

Germany reported the first case of the virus on Friday, becoming the latest European country to detect an outbreak, along with the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and Sweden.

The United States and Australia also confirmed their first cases this week, as experts try to determine the root cause of the recent spike.

Although some cases have been linked to travel from Africa, recent infections are thought to have spread to the community, increasing the risk of a widespread outbreak.

The US Center for Disease Control and Infection and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) say they are investigating a number of cases involving people who identify themselves as men who have sex with men and especially those who call themselves gay and bisexual. Reported. Be aware of abnormal rashes or sores.

In the UK alone, cases have doubled since the first identification on May 7. There are now 20 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the country, although there are concerns that many more could not be identified.

People who show symptoms of the virus – including rashes and fevers – are requested to seek medical advice before contacting any clinic.

Susan Hopkins, the UKHSA’s chief medical adviser, said on Wednesday: “These recent developments, along with reports from countries across Europe, confirm our initial concern that monkeypox may be spreading in our community.”

What is a monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus, part of the same family as smallpox, although usually less severe.

The virus was first detected in captive monkeys in 1958, usually in remote areas of central and western Africa. The first human case was recorded in 1970.

MonkeyPix reappeared in Nigeria in 2017 after four decades without a definite lawsuit. As of May 2022, 450 cases have been reported in the country.

The Washington Post | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Since then there have been sporadic incidents in 10 African countries, including Nigeria, which experienced the largest recorded outbreak in 2017, with 172 suspects and 61 confirmed cases. Three-quarters were among men aged 21 to 40 years.

Events outside of Africa are historically less common, and are usually associated with international travel or imported animals. Previous incidents have been reported in Israel, the United Kingdom, Singapore, and the United States, with 81 cases reported in 2003 involving prairie dogs infected with imported animals.

How do you catch monkeypox?

Monkeypox is spread when someone comes in close contact with another person, animal or object infected with the virus.

The virus can enter the body through broken skin, respiratory tract or eyes, nose and mouth.

This 1971 Center for Disease Control Handout photo shows a girl in Bandua, Liberia, with a monkeypox-like wound on her arm and leg.

CDC | Getty Images

Human-to-human transmission usually occurs through respiratory tract infections, although prolonged face-to-face contact is usually required. Infection from animals to humans can already occur through a bite or scratch.

Monkeypox is not generally considered a sexually transmitted disease, although it can spread during sex.

What are the symptoms?

Early symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, bloating and back pain.

Patients usually develop a rash one to three days after the onset of the fever, often starting in the mouth and spreading to other parts of the body, such as the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet.

The rash, which can cause severe itching, then goes into several stages before the legion scab and fall off.

The infection usually lasts two to four weeks and usually clears up on its own.

What is treatment?

There is currently no proven, safe treatment for monkeypox, although mild in most cases.

People suspected of having the virus can be isolated in a negative stress room – the spaces used to isolate patients – and monitored by healthcare professionals using personal protective equipment.

During a health check in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1997, a monkeypox patient’s palm was found in Lodja, a town in the Katako-Combe health zone.

CDC | Reuters

The smallpox vaccine, however, has been shown to be very effective in preventing the spread of the virus. Countries including the United Kingdom and Spain are now offering their vaccines to those exposed to the infection to help reduce symptoms and limit the spread.

How dangerous is it?

Incidents of monkeypox can sometimes be more serious, with some deaths reported in West Africa.

However, the health authorities emphasize that we are not on the verge of a serious outbreak and the risk to the general public is very low.

Colin Brown, director of clinical and emerging infections at UKHSA, said on Saturday that “although investigations are ongoing to determine the source of the infection, it is important to emphasize that it does not spread easily to humans and requires close personal contact with infected people.” .

Health authorities in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada have requested that you contact a healthcare provider who is experiencing a new rash or is concerned about monkeypox.

The UKHSA added that they are contacting and advising any potential close acquaintances and healthcare workers who may be in contact with infected patients.

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