Monkeypox is a rare but serious viral disease that first appeared in humans in 1970. The disease is caused by the monkeypox virus, which belongs to the same family of viruses as smallpox. While it shares some similarities with smallpox, monkeypox is generally less severe and has a lower mortality rate. In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about monkeypox, including its origins, transmission, symptoms, and most importantly, preventative measures.
Monkeypox and Smallpox
Monkeypox is often compared to smallpox due to the similarities in their symptoms, but it’s important to note that monkeypox is generally less severe. Both diseases begin with flu-like symptoms including fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, and sore throat. A rash then develops, progressed to raised bumps that fill with fluid and often becomes pustules that scab over and fall off, leaving scars.
Unlike smallpox, monkeypox has not been eradicated. The smallpox vaccine provides immunity against monkeypox as well as smallpox, and so it is highly recommended to individuals who are at risk of contracting the disease.
Outbreaks and Pandemic Planning
Monkeypox outbreaks have been reported in many Central and West African countries, including Nigeria, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In recent years, there have been sporadic cases of monkeypox in the United States due to travelers who visited countries where the disease is endemic and brought it back with them.
Pandemic planning and preparedness are critical to prevent the spread of monkeypox. Health agencies across the world must collaborate to monitor outbreaks and coordinate prevention, diagnosis, and treatment methods. Identification of cases is vital, and every suspected case of monkeypox should be reported promptly to the local health department or the Infectious Disease Control Team at the nearest medical facility.
Prevention is the best way to manage and avoid contracting monkeypox. The following measures can help prevent the spread of monkeypox:
- Vaccination: As mentioned earlier, the smallpox vaccine helps prevent monkeypox, and it’s recommended for people who work with animals, especially primates, as well as people who live in areas where the disease is endemic.
- Avoiding contact with infected animals: Monkeypox is mainly contracted through contact with infected animals such as rodents and primates. Avoiding contact with these animals and their products significantly lowers the risk of infection.
- Maintaining good hygiene practices: Washing your hands with soap and water or using a hand sanitizer frequently can help prevent the spread of monkeypox. Also, avoid touching the rash or scabs, as they contain the virus, and use disposable gloves if it’s necessary to handle them.
- Isolating infected individuals: Isolating infected individuals and taking preventive measures to avoid close contact with them can significantly minimize the spread of monkeypox.
Monkeypox can cause severe complications, and personal accounts can help readers understand the real-world impact of the disease, the importance of prevention and preparedness, and also provide a glimpse into the challenges faced when managing outbreaks.
One such personal account is the story of a photographer who contracted monkeypox while photographing primates in Central Africa. The disease was initially diagnosed as chickenpox, delaying the proper diagnosis, and had severe effects on the photographer’s health and well-being.
Monkeypox is a rare but serious disease that requires attention and awareness. By taking preventative measures, such as vaccination and good hygiene practices, the spread of monkeypox can be minimized, and future outbreaks can be prevented. With prompt diagnosis, proper treatment, and a concerted global effort, monkeypox can be successfully managed and contained.