Causes, Symptoms, Prevention, and Treatment of Monkeypox Virus
Monkeypox is a zoonotic viral disease that is caused by the monkeypox virus. The virus belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus. The Variola virus (smallpox virus) also belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus.
This disease primarily occurs in tropical rainforest areas of Central and West Africa. But now it’s spread worldwide, and many outbreaks have been observed in many countries including the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and Singapore.
Recently, In May 2022, multiple cases of Monkeypox virus disease were identified in many countries including Portugal, Spain, Britain, and America.
Signs and Symptoms of Monkeypox Disease
Monkeypox symptoms are very similar to the symptoms of smallpox disease (Variola virus) but milder. The major difference between the symptoms of the monkeypox virus diseases and smallpox is that monkeypox causes lymphadenopathy (swollen lymph nodes) while smallpox does not cause lymphadenopathy.
The incubation period (time from exposure of the infection to the first symptoms appearing) of the monkey pox disease is usually 7 to 14 days which can vary range from 5 days to 21 days.
Illness begins with fever, generalized weakness, and headache. Following are the symptoms of monkeypox disease:
- High-grade fever
- Muscular pain (Myalgia)
- Back pain
- Swollen Lymph nodes
- Rashes (Blisters) especially over the face and extremities
Within 3-4 days of fever, the patient develops rashes, often beginning on the face and to other parts of the body mostly on extremities, legs, and hands including palms.
The stages of rash (Blisters) are macule formation, papules, vesicles, pustules, and then scab formation.
All of this takes around 2-4 weeks to get cured, it’s a self-limiting disease but symptomatic treatment is needed. But severe cases can also occur which can lead to complications including loss of vision.
Complications of Monkeypox Virus
- Secondary bacterial infection
- Infection in the Cornea
- Loss of Vision
Monkeypox Death Rate
The average mortality rate of monkeypox disease is ~3.6%. However, the Monkeypox virus is milder than smallpox disease in view of the severity of the disease and complications. The mortality rate or death rate of the monkeypox virus is still high ranging from 1% to 10%.
The monkeypox virus has 2 types of strains, one is the Congo strain and the second is the West African Strain.
The mortality rate of the Congo strain of the monkeypox virus is 10%. And, on other hand, the mortality rate of the West African strain of monkeypox virus is 1%.
How Do You Get Monkeypox Virus?
Transmission of Monkeypox
Monkeypox is a zoonotic disease that comes from animals to humans and the spreading from human to human through direct contact. Transmission of the monkeypox virus happens when a person comes into direct contact with the infected patient, contaminated articles, or material.
Animal-to-human contact can be through a bite, scratch, or direct contact with body fluids. Human to human transmission is largely happening due to droplet infection.
Large respiratory droplets generally do not travel more than 2-3 feet, so if prolonged face-to-face contact is there can cause transmission of monkeypox disease.
Once a person is exposed to the virus, it enters the body through the respiratory tract; mucous membrane of the eye, nose, mouth, or throat, or through broken skin.
The only prevention is to avoid exposure to the virus and contact with the infected patients or animals
- Avoid direct contact or playing with the animals that could harbor the monkeypox virus. Especially, if you find animals sick or that have been found dead in areas where monkeypox cases are identified.
- Do not touch the materials or objects, such as bedding that has been used by a sick animal.
- Avoid direct contact with the infected patient, and do not touch the articles used by the patient, such as utensils, clothes, or bedding.
- Follow good hand hygiene practices after contact with infected animals or humans. Washing hands and using sanitizers is the best prevention technique, same as we are following to prevent us from Covid-19 infection.
- Isolate infected patients from others to prevent exposure who could be at risk for infection.
Treatment of Monkeypox
As of now, there is no proven or tested treatment available for monkeypox disease. Symptomatic and supportive treatment is the only option to prevent complications. Seek healthcare advice if you experience monkeypox-like symptoms.
- Antipyretics and analgesics are used for fever, headache, and body aches.
- Hydration needs to be maintained
- Supportive therapy
- Multivitamins and herbal Immuno booster therapies work well to improve immunity
- Secondary bacterial infections are treated with the help of antibiotics
An approved vaccine for monkeypox (MVA-BN) is not available widely. But to control the monkeypox outbreak, smallpox vaccines, antivirals, and vaccinia immunoglobulins (VIG) are being used currently.