After numerous cases were recorded, health officials verified this week that monkeypox, an infectious disease that is generally prevalent in parts of Africa, had arrived in the United States and Europe. Health experts throughout the world are on the lookout for more cases because the disease appears to be spreading outside of Africa for the first time.
What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a virus that spreads from wild animals such as rats and primates to humans on rare occasions. The disease is endemic in Central and West Africa, hence the majority of human cases have occurred there.
Scientists discovered the disease in 1958 after two outbreaks of a "smallpox-like" disease in monkeys — hence the term monkeypox. The virus comes in two variants: a West African strain and a Central African strain.
Where is the Monkeypox Spreading?
The African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention claimed that the outbreaks had been reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Cameroon, and the Central African Republic.
Every year, the World Health Organization estimates that thousands of people in around a dozen African nations contract monkeypox. The majority of cases are reported in Congo, which has around 6,000 cases per year, and Nigeria, which has about 3,000 cases per year.
Recent outbreaks have been documented in the United Kingdom and the United States. The UK National Health Service (NHS) has identified nine cases of monkeypox in the UK in the past week.
What are the Symptoms?
Monkeypox is a virus that is related to smallpox but has fewer severe symptoms. National Health Service (NHS), Fever, headaches, muscle aches, tiredness, and swollen glands are among the earliest symptoms of the disease.
One to five days after the first symptoms, a rash forms, usually on the face before spreading to other regions of the body. The rash looks like chickenpox at first, with raised patches that grow into blisters before falling off.
The incubation phase lasts anywhere from five to three weeks. Most patients recover in two to four weeks without the need for hospitalization.
How Do You Catch the Disease?
The disease is commonly contracted when a person comes into contact with an infected animal's blood or other bodily fluids, or consumes infected animal products such as meat.
Human-to-human transmission is uncommon, although it does happen. The two patients in the UK cases had no travel ties to a country where monkeypox is endemic. The U.K. National Health Service now believes they contracted the disease through community transmission.
Is Monkeypox Sexually Transmitted?
Monkeypox isn't classified as a sexually transmitted infection, meaning it's not transferred through sexual contact. Although monkeypox has never been classified as a sexually transmitted infection, British health officials recently announced that the virus can be transferred by close contact during sex.
According to health officials, the most recent cases of monkeypox in the UK were mostly found in gay or bisexual men or men who have sex with men. Investigations are still ongoing into how the transmission happened.
Can You Die From Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is known to be more severe in youngsters and can be fatal for up to one in ten people. The West African strain, which is now circulating in Europe and the United States, has a fatality rate of roughly 1%, whereas the Central African strain has a fatality rate of over 10%.
Is there a cure?
There is currently no cure for monkeypox. However, because the viruses are related, smallpox vaccines have been used in Africa in the past to provide protection against the disease. Antiviral medications are also in development.