May 22, 2022

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a virus discovered in 1958 in parts of Central and West Africa. It has been a common disease spread from monkeys to humans after it was contracted from monkeys being kept for research. Contractors of this disease were mostly found near remote tropical rainforests, in South and Central Africa. It is a descendent of its deadlier cousin, smallpox, which ravaged humanity for thousands of years before being eradicated from vaccination. The rare virus has been transmission in unusual ways this year, towards populations who have not been vulnerable in the past.

What are the symptoms?

Initial symptoms of Monkeypox can include fevers, back pain, headaches, swelling, and aching muscles. After that, Monkeypox produces milder smallpox-like symptoms, defined by the skin. Red rashes begin to form on the skin, starting flat, that slowly begin to fill up with pus. These rashes can be extremely itchy and painful, moving through multiple stages lasting for 2-4 weeks, before forming a scab that falls off followed by scarring from lesions. According to the World Health Organization, these symptoms can be more severe among children. 

How infectious is it?

According to the World Health Organization, the first time a Monkeypox outbreak had been detected outside of Africa was in 2003, where prairie dogs and other pets within the United States infected dozens of people with the virus. Within Africa, the largest recent outbreak was located in Nigeria, when over 500 cases were detected in 2017. The virus spreads via contact between body fluids, skin contact, and breathing (large respiratory droplets). It can also spread through… private place to private place contact… especially men to other men. People who come into contact with infected animals such as monkeys, squirrels, and dogs can also contract the virus. Similarly to COVID, it lingers on soft materials such as clothing as well.

What is the current situation? 

Out of the 38 cases reported this year so far (since May 19th 2022) 37 of them have been from countries with no history of the virus according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention. On May 18th, 2022 the first case in North America was detected in Massachusetts. The same man had traveled to Canada, leading to the first two cases discovered in Canada as well. Europe has been hit much worse, with multiple countries reporting cases, the most of which is Britain, with 20 cases, followed by Portugal with 17. It has been estimated to have a 3.3% mortality rate. The World Health Organization is still unsure of how transmissible the virus is among locals, however, it’s confirmed that Monkeypox will be going through testing by the C.D.C. (Centre of Disease Control and Prevention).

What is the treatment

According to the C.D.C., there is currently “no proven, safe treatment” for monkeypox. However smallpox vaccines and antiviral treatments approved by the Food and Drug Administration have been used to control outbreaks. Vaccination against smallpox has been proven to be 85% effective against monkeypox, while the effectiveness of antiviral treatments are still uncertain. 

Should YOU be worried? 

With the thinning out of the COVID-19, the emergence of a new virus can be… disturbing for the least. However if you’ve gotten a shot of the smallpox vaccine, then symptoms should be mild at most if you were to contract it. Even then, transmission between close contact is low, and as long as you’re keeping up with the news about where it’s spreading, and taking the necessary precautions against it, then "It is wrong to think that we are on the brink of a nationwide outbreak." - UKHSA. 

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