Disease caused by the monkeypox virus, a zoonotic viral infection, which means that it can be transmitted from animals to humans and can also spread among people. It was first identified in monkey colonies preserved for research in 1958. It was discovered in humans in 1970. Monkeypox is most commonly found in central and western Africa, where some tropical rainforests and animals may carry the virus usually live. However, people with monkeypox are sometimes identified in other countries outside Central and West Africa after traveling from areas where monkeypox is endemic.
Fever, severe headache, muscle aches, back pain, swollen lymph nodes, and rash usually begins within 1 to 3 days of the onset of fever and can be flat or slightly raised, filled with a clear or yellowish fluid. Symptoms typically last 2-4 weeks and go away on their own without treatment. The complications are caused by severe cases of monkeypox and include skin infections, pneumonia, confusion, and eye infections that can lead to vision loss. About 3-6% of reported cases in recently endemic countries resulted in death.
Monkeypox can be transmitted to people when they contact an infected animal. The risk of catching monkeypox from animals can be reduced by avoiding unprotected contact with wild animals, incredibly sick or dead ones (including meat and blood), in endemic countries. People with monkeypox are contagious while developing symptoms (usually for two to four weeks). You can get monkeypox through contact with someone who has symptoms. Rashes, body fluids (such as fluid, pus, or blood from skin lesions), and crusts are contagious. Risks can be reduced by limiting contact with people who have suspected or confirmed monkeypox, encouraging the infected person to isolate themselves, covering any skin lesion and wearing a medical mask, and avoiding skin contact with disposable gloves. Wash the person`s clothes, bedding, and eating utensils with warm water and detergent.
Children are usually more likely to have severe symptoms than teenagers and adults. The virus can also be passed to a fetus or newborn through childbirth or early physical contact. Several vaccines are available to prevent smallpox, providing some protection against monkeypox. In addition, a new vaccine developed for smallpox (MVA-BN – also known as Imvamune, Imvanex or Jynneos) was approved in 2019 to prevent monkeypox.
Monkeypox symptoms often resolve on their own without the need for treatment. However, the VIG vaccine may be recommended for severe cases. An antiviral developed for the treatment of smallpox (tecovirimat, marketed as TPOXX) was also approved for the treatment of monkeypox in January 2022.
Since 1970, human cases of monkeypox have been reported in 11 African countries; in May 2022, multiple cases of monkeypox were identified in several non-endemic countries. This is not typical of earlier patterns of monkeypox. In addition, several countries where monkeypox is not endemic have reported cases in May 2022. As of 19 May 2022, cases have been reported from more than 10 countries in non-endemic areas. Additional points are being investigated. Chances in non-endemic regions not associated with travel from endemic countries are not typical.
Monkeypox is not usually highly contagious because it requires close physical contact with an infectious person (for example, skin-to-skin) to spread between people. Therefore, the risks to the general public are low. Occasionally, there is a monkeypox rash on the genitals and mouth, which likely contributes to transmission during sexual contact. Thus, mouth-to-skin contact can result in the information of infection where there are lesions in the skin or mouth. Several cases reported from non-endemic countries have been identified in MSM. These cases have been identified in sexual health clinics.
Dr. Saleh Saif Al Hinai
Senior Consultant Family Medicine