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What is Monkeypox and How to Prevent it?

New cases of the rare tropical disease Monkeypox are discovered in the UK. According to reports, the first case was reported on 7th May and then 2 others on 14th May. Now 4 more cases have been detected; 3 in London and 1 in the northeast. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said it investigated the connection between new patients who probably contracted the virus in London. Usually, this virus is spread by wild animals in Africa.

Where did Monkeypox Come From?

According to (WHO World Health Organization), Monkeypox can be traced to the tropical African rainforests. It is described as a “viral zoonotic”, which means that it can be transmitted from animals to humans. It is partially similar to smallpox, a devastating contagious disease which was eradicated in 1980.

The first-ever case was identified in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Experts theorised that initially, it could have been transmitted from contaminated primates like tree squirrels and Gambian rats. It infects humans when they come in contact with the droplets of bodily fluid from these animals.

What are the Symptoms?

Health experts said that Monkeypox has an incubation period of 6 to 16 days. In the first stages, patients feel fever, headaches, back pain, muscle aches, swellings, and lethargy. When the fever breaks, the skin erupts, and a rash is spread across the face. Then the rash moves onto the rest of the body, mainly the palms and soles.

The blotches first seem like small scrapes, but they evolve into thick blisters, which can take up to 3 weeks to heal. Diagnosing this virus can be challenging without laboratory analysis due to its similarity with other rash-related diseases like measles, chickenpox, scabies, and syphilis.

Where Else Has It Been Reported?

The largest Monkeypox outbreak happened in Nigeria in 2017. According to reports, authorities identified 172 suspected cases and 61 confirmed cases across the country. ​75% of the patients were male aged between 21 and 40.

The UK is one of the very few countries outside Africa where this virus has appeared. It is the third time the UK has reported any such case. Previously, 2 cases were reported in 2018 and 2 in 2019. The second time, 3 family members contracted the virus after travelling to Nigeria in 2021. The new cases this year brings the UK total to 14 cases.

Is it Dangerous?

UKHSA said that Monkey does not easily spread from human to human, so the risk to public health is lower. Although it is much milder than smallpox, it has caused deaths, mainly in young people. WHO said its fatality rate was 10%. Right now, there is no treatment or vaccine for this disease, but medical experts reported 85% success by using pre-existing medication for smallpox.

How Does it Go Away?

Monkeypox usually goes away on its own, but health experts have issued preventive measures to protect oneself from this virus. It involves; avoiding contact with infected, dead, or sick animals, washing hands with soap after coming into contact with an infected animal, thoroughly cooking food that contains animal meat, avoiding contact with infected people, and using PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) while caring for infected people.

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