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What is monkeypox virus, and what are the causes and treatments?

Description of Monkeypox

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus. It causes a rash and flu-like symptoms. Like the better-known virus that causes smallpox, it is a member of the family known as orthopoxviruses.

Monkeypox was discovered in 1958 after two outbreaks of smallpox-like disease in groups of monkeys being used for research. It is mainly spread by human contact with infected rodents, but can sometimes be spread by skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. There are two known groups of monkeypox viruses – one that originated in Central Africa and the other that originated in West Africa. The current world outbreak (2022) is caused by the less severe West African clade.

 

How common is Monkeypox viruses:

Monkeypox is a rare disease similar to smallpox caused by the monkeypox virus. It is mostly found in areas of Africa but has been observed in other areas of the world. It causes flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills, and a rash that can take weeks to clear up. There is no proven cure for monkeypox, but it usually goes away on its own.

 

Where else is Monkeypox found:

For decades, monkeypox was mostly seen in Africa. However, it is occasionally found in other countries, including the United States. In the spring of 2003, the first outbreak of monkeypox outside Africa occurred in the U.S. A shipment of infected animals from Ghana was imported into Texas. Infected rodents spread the virus to domesticated prairie dogs, which then infected 47 people in the Midwest.

As international travel becomes more common, viruses that were once confined to certain places can spread more easily around the world. In the summer of 2021, a case of monkeypox was reported in a US resident who had traveled from Nigeria to the United States. Then, 2022 brought the outbreak to areas outside Africa, including Europe, the Americas and Australia.

Who does Monkeypox virus affect

Monkeypox can happen to anyone. In Africa, most cases occur in children under the age of 15. Outside Africa, the disease appears to be more common in men who have sex with men, but there are many cases that do not fall into that category.

Symptoms and Causes

There are a visual symptoms of all five stages.

Stage 1- Macule:

The rash starts as flat, red spots, which lasts for 1-2 days.

Stage 2- Papule:

The spots become hard, raised bumps which lasts for 1-2 days.

Stage 3- Vesicle:

The bumps get larger. They look like blisters filled with clear fluid which lasts for 1-2 days.

Stage 4- Pustule:

The blisters fill with pus which lasts for 5-7 days

Stage 5- Scabs:

The spots crust over and become scabs that eventually fall off which lasts for 7-14 days.

Signs and symptoms of Monkeypox viruses:

After exposure, it may take several days to a few weeks for you to develop symptoms. Early symptoms of monkeypox include flu-like symptoms, including:

  • Fever 
  • To calm down
  • Headache.
  • muscle aches.
  • Fatigue 
  • Swollen lymph nodes.

After a few days, a rash often develops. The rash begins as flat, red bumps, which can be painful. Those blisters turn into blisters, which are filled with pus. Eventually, the blisters pop up and fall off – the whole process can last from two weeks to four weeks. You may also have sores in your mouth, vagina, or anus.

Not everyone with monkeypox develops all the symptoms. Indeed, many cases in the current (2022) outbreak are not following the usual pattern of symptoms. This unusual presentation includes only a few sores, no swollen lymph nodes, low fever, and other signs of illness. You can have it and not know it. Even if you don’t show many signs of infection, you can still spread it to others through prolonged close contact.

 

How do you catch Monkeypox:

Monkeypox virus is spread when you come into contact with an animal or a person infected with the virus. Animal-to-person transmission occurs through broken skin, such as from a bite or scratch, or through direct contact with an infected animal’s blood, bodily fluids, or smallpox sores (sores).

Monkeypox can be spread from person to person, but it is less common. Person-to-person transmission occurs when you come into contact with an infected person’s sores, scabs, respiratory droplets, or oral fluids, usually through close, intimate situations such as hugging, kissing, or sex. Research is ongoing, but researchers are not sure whether the virus is transmitted through semen or vaginal fluids.

Paitent can also get monkeypox virus from recently coming into contact with contaminated materials such as clothing, bedding, and other linens used by an infected person or infected animal.

 

How is Monkeypox diagnosed:

Monkeypox is usually a self-limiting disease with symptoms lasting two weeks to four weeks. Most people with monkeypox virus get better on their own without treatment. After diagnosis, your healthcare provider will monitor your condition and try to relieve your symptoms, prevent dehydration, and give you antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections if they develop. There is currently no approved antiviral treatment for monkeypox. Antiviral medications may help, but they have not been studied as a treatment for monkeypox. Several investigational antivirals with activity against monkeypox are available, but only as part of one research study.

 

How do you prevent the Monkeypox virus:

The smallpox vaccine provides protection against monkeypox, but its use is currently limited to clinical trials. Prevention depends on minimizing human contact with infected animals and limiting person-to-person spread. The best way to help stop the spread of the monkeypox virus is to:

  • Avoid contact with infected animals (especially sick or dead animals).
  • Avoid contact with bedding and other material contaminated with the virus.
  • Thoroughly cook all foods containing animal meat or parts.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Avoid coming in contact with people who may be infected with this virus.
  • Practice safe sex, including the use of condoms and dental dams.
  • Wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose when you are around others.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Use personal protective equipment (PPE) when caring for people infected with the virus.

 

How long does Monkeypox virus last:

It usually takes about two weeks to four weeks for the monkeypox to run its course. If you have been exposed to monkeypox, your provider will monitor you until the rash goes away.

Summary: Monkeypox viruses

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus. It causes a rash and flu-like symptoms. Like the better-known virus that causes smallpox, it is a member of the family known as orthopoxviruses.

Monkeypox was discovered in 1958 after two outbreaks of smallpox-like disease in groups of monkeys being used for research. It is mainly spread by human contact with infected rodents, but can sometimes be spread by skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. There are two known groups of monkeypox viruses – one that originated in Central Africa and the other that originated in West Africa. The current world outbreak (2022) is caused by the less severe West African clade.

Monkeypox is spread when you come into contact with an animal or a person infected with the virus. Animal-to-person transmission occurs through broken skin, such as from a bite or scratch, or through direct contact with an infected animal’s blood, bodily fluids, or smallpox sores (sores).

Monkeypox virus can be spread from person to person, but it is less common. Person-to-person transmission occurs when you come into contact with an infected person’s sores, scabs, respiratory droplets, or oral fluids, usually through close, intimate situations such as hugging, kissing, or sex. Research is ongoing, but researchers are not sure whether the virus is transmitted through semen or vaginal fluids.

Patient can also get Monkeypox from recently coming into contact with contaminated materials such as clothing, bedding, and other linens used by an infected person or infected animal.

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