MONKEYPOX OUTBREAK - MEASURES TO STAY SAFE
By CDC/ Brian W.J. Mahy, BSc, MA, PhD, ScD, DSc, Public Domain, Wikimedia
Monkeypox is endemic in West and Central Africa, however, in recent times, the disease has been reported in many other continents and countries including America, the United Kingdom, Singapore, etc. In May 2022, several monkeypox cases were found in many non-endemic countries and the incidence is still rising. As the world is still recovering from the impact of COVID-19, we cannot afford to have another pandemic. Therefore, all hands must be on deck to break the chain of transmission of this disease.
By October 7, 2022, a total of 71,096 cases of monkeypox infection had been reported in 107 locations worldwide, with 70,377 of the cases in countries that have not historically reported monkeypox. The largest numbers of cases have been reported in the United States, followed by Brazil and Spain.
Monkeypox usually runs a self-limiting course, however, in some cases, it may lead to adverse outcomes, complications, or death, especially in the extremes of ages.
HOW IS MONKEYPOX TRANSMITTED
The transmission of monkeypox is primarily from an infected animal to man, therefore it is a zoonotic disease. So many wild animals have been implicated such as squirrels, monkeys, dormice, Gambian pouched rats, etc. Contact with these animals, including their body fluids, feces, improperly cooked meats, etc are risk factors for the transmission of monkeypox.
Transmission from human to human occurs through contact with the body fluids, contaminated objects, and respiratory droplets of an infected person.
When the virus gains entrance into the body, it takes about 6-13 days before the symptoms start manifesting.
By not listed - https://phil.cdc.gov, Public Domain, Wikimedia
The early symptoms include fever, muscle pain, tiredness, serious headache, and inflammation of the lymph nodes. This stage is regarded as the invasion phase. In the second phase of the disease called the skin eruption phase, the rashes now appear mostly on the face, hands, and legs.
After this second phase, the disease usually resolves on its own within 2 to 4 weeks. However, some individuals, especially children and those whose body defense mechanisms are weak or those who have other pre-existing medical conditions, may develop serious complications like inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), lung infections (bronchopneumonia), or even invasion of the blood by microorganisms (sepsis) in severe cases which might lead to death. The current case fatality ratio according to the World Health Organisation is 3 - 6%.
Due to the similarity of monkeypox to smallpox, the treatment of monkeypox is also very similar to smallpox and the drugs and vaccines which were previously used for smallpox are now being used for monkeypox.
The treatment involves self-isolation and standard precautionary measures to avoid transmission to others. Supportive care, adequate food, and fluids are also instituted. Paracetamol can be given to control the fever and headache, antibiotics to treat or prevent coexisting bacterial infections and antiviral drugs like tecovirimat can also be used. However, the most important here is prevention.
PREVENTION OF MONKEYPOX
The main prevention option for this disease is vaccination. Previously, smallpox vaccines were used to vaccinate against monkeypox which proved to be very effective, however, vaccines for monkeypox have been developed and few days, Africa received 50,000 doses of the monkeypox vaccines. We are optimistic that this will win the fight against monkeypox and it will be eradicated in years to come, just like smallpox was successfully eradicated.
Other preventive measures include;
- Personal hygiene:
The importance of regular hand washing cannot be over-emphasized. With the recent epidemics and pandemics of diseases, hand washing has become a life-saving act for many of them. We should make a habit of always washing our hands with soap and running water especially after visiting public places, shaking hands with people, and touching surfaces.
By Davyimage - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia
We should also avoid frequently touching our faces, nose, and mouth. We may introduce these organisms into the body unknowingly.
Limit contact with wild animals:
There should be limited contact with wild animals as well as proper hand washing after touching these animals. Those who live close to the rainforest zones should take extra care to avoid contact with the feces and body fluids of these animals.
Cook meat properly:
All meats especially bush meat should be cooked properly before eating. Those who love bush meat should make sure that the meat is adequately cooked. Eating improperly cooked bush meat is a risk factor for this disease.
Eat healthily and stay healthy:
A healthy lifestyle boosts our immunity and ability to fight infections. A healthy balanced diet, exercise and prompt treatment of ailments will keep the body in an optimum state to fight infections.
Education and awareness:
There should be a continued awareness campaign on this disease to let people know what it is, the mode of transmission, and how it can be prevented.
In summary, monkeypox is a viral infection that is endemic in west and central Africa, however, it is spreading to many continents and nations. Transmission is primarily from animal to man and secondarily from human to human. Prevention is possible through vaccination, personal hygiene, and healthy lifestyle. The incidence is rising, therefore we must stay on alert and stay safe!
For references and further reading:
Pan American Health Organisation
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