Monkey pox is an infectious disease caused by monkeypox virus. The disease was first identified in laboratory monkeys, hence its name, but in its natural state it seems to infect rodents.
It is a rare disease, that occurs primarily in remote parts of Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests, Human Monkeypox was first identified in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (ZAIRE).
Monkeypox is a viral Zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals).
Infection of index cases results from direct contact with the blood, bodily fluids, cutaneous or mucosal lesions of infected animals – infected monkeys, giant rats and squirrels. Eating inadequately cooked meat of infected animals is a possible risk factor. It can also occur via an animal bite.
Secondary or human to human transmission can result from close contact with infected respiratory tract. Secretions, skin lesions of an infected person or objects contaminated by patient fluids or lesion materials.
SIGN AND SYMPTOMS
The incubation period (interval from infection to onset of symptoms) is usually from 6 to 16 days but can range from 5 to 21 days.
The infection can be divided into 2 periods.
- The invasion period (0 – 5 days) characterized by fever, intense headache, swelling of the lymph rode, back pain, muscle ache and lack of energy.
- The skin eruption period (within 1-3 days after appearance of fever) where the various stages of rash appears.
The face (95% of cases) and palms of hands and soles of the feet (75%) are most affected.
Monkeypox is usually a self-limited disease! Severe cases occur more commonly among children and are related to the extent of virus exposure, patient health status and severity of complications.
Monkeypox has symptoms in human similar to those seen in the past in small pox patients although less severe. Smallpox was eradicated in 1980.
It can only be diagnosed definitively in the laboratory where the virus can be identified by a number of different tests.
TREATMENT AND VACCINE
There is no specific treatment or vaccines available for monkeypox infection.
Vaccination against smallpox has been proven to be 85% effective in preventing monkeypox in the past but the vaccine is no longer available after it was discontinued following global smallpox eradication. Nevertheless prior smallpox vaccination will likely result in a milder disease course, Cidofovir, an antiviral drug is suggested for patients with severe, life-threatening symptoms.
- Reducing the risk of infection in people
- During human monkey outbreaks, close contact with other patients is the most significant risk factor, therefore close physical contact with monkeypox infected people should be avoided. Gloves and protective equipment should be worn when taking care of ill people.
- Regular hand washing should be carried out after caring or visiting sick people.
- Cooking all animal products before eating.
- Protective clothing and gloves should be worn while handling animals during slaughtering procedures.
- Controlling infection in healthcare settings
- Implementation of standard infection control in hospitals.
- Preventing monkeypox expansion through restrictions on animal trade.
Restrictions or banning the movement of small African mammals and monkeys may be effective in slowing the expansion of the virus