Monkeypox is a viral infectious disease from the same family as smallpox, though its symptoms generally are not severe. Researchers had known about it since 1958 when they found it in lab monkeys used for study purposes. This condition is most common in the central and western parts of Africa. But in May 2022, health professionals began reporting an outbreak of the virus in several regions outside Africa.
In early June 2022, the WHO confirmed 35 cases of this disease and a related virus in the USA and about 1000 cases worldwide. It is a zoonotic virus that can spread from animals to humans. In addition to monkeys, it has been found in other African rodents and primates. But, individuals can transmit it to each other, too. The first known human infection was in 1970.
How do you get monkeypox?
Generally, human monkeypox spreads through very close, intimate contact or droplets. If any individual sneezed or coughed and you had direct contact with the rash, it could be transmitted this way.
Infected animals can pass the virus if they scratch or bite you. You can also get it from eating uncooked contaminated meat. The virus can get into your system through a break in your skin or through your eyes, nose, or mouth.
You can breathe it in, but you probably must be in close contact for a reasonably extended period. It is because most droplets do not travel very far. This condition is technically considered a sexually transmitted infection since you can get it from other contact forms. But an individual infected with this disease can pass it on during sexual intercourse.
Some records say that most of the cases of the monkeypox virus in May 2022 were sexually transmitted, especially among males who have sex with men.
What are the symptoms of the monkeypox virus?
The symptoms of the monkeypox virus are the same but milder than the symptoms of smallpox. Early signs of this condition may include flu-like symptoms may include:
- swollen lymph nodes
- muscle aches
After one to three days, a rash with the raised bumps developed. The rashes often start on your face and then spread to other parts of your body, such as the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet. The rashes begin as flat red bumps and turn into blisters filled with clear fluid. After a few days, the blisters crust over and fall off.
You can spread monkeypox to others a day before the rash appears. You are contagious for about 21 days after your first symptoms or until your lesions have scabbed over and you do not have any other signs.
Is the monkeypox the same as smallpox?
Monkeypox virus is the same as smallpox, but it is a milder form caused by a monkeypox virus, which belongs to the same orthopoxvirus family. It is usually found in the regions of Africa, which are softer compared to smallpox. The symptoms of smallpox are flu-like symptoms, rash, headache, or fever, but it is self-limiting and is cured in about three weeks.
The primary difference between the two is that apart from the flu-like symptoms. The monkeypox virus causes enlargement of lymph nodes or glands, which can help differentiate between the two.
Another difference is that the monkeypox virus is spread from animal to human through the scratches and bites of rodents, squirrels, and monkeys or from direct contact with an infected animal’s lesion, body fluids, and blood.
How does the monkeypox virus spread?
The spread of monkeypox among humans is limited, but it can occur through bodily fluids, air droplets, and close skin contact. Most recent cases in the UK and Canada have been reported among sexual health workers and attendees at health clinics in males who have sex with men.
There is a need for new information to investigate appropriately to understand better the dynamic of local spread in the USA and some other countries.
What is the difference between chickenpox and monkeypox?
According to WHO, about 550 cases of monkeypox infection have been detected in almost 30 countries that are not endemic to the disease. During the ongoing pandemic, reports of this infection come from various international shores. It gathered the attention of the people and became headlines in the newspaper. Another scare has started to increase in an individual that is another impending health crisis.
Symptoms of rashes can occur due to various causes, such as chickenpox and measles. The cause of this infection doesn’t need to be monkeypox.
Here is the difference between monkeypox and chicken pox:
|Virus||Monkeypox is a condition caused due to monkeypox virus. It belongs to the family orthopoxvirus genus in the family of Poxviridae.||Chickenpox is caused due to varicella-zoster virus, which is a highly contagious infection.|
|Fever||You can get a fever for about one to five days before the rash||Fever and other signs start to appear within one to two days before the rash|
|Rash||An individual develops rashes within one to three days, sometimes long after the appearance of fever. These rashes often start from the face and then spread to other parts of the body.||Rashes appear on the chest, face, and back. Then it begins to paper over the entire body, causing between 500 itchy blisters.|
How is monkeypox diagnosed?
As monkeypox is so rare, your medical professional may first suspect other rash illnesses, including smallpox, measles, and chickenpox. However, the swollen lymph nodes can distinguish the monkeypox virus from the other similar infection.
It is necessary to get a diagnosis with monkeypox if you:
- visit near the tropical rainforest
- ate partially cooked meat and other products
- received a scratch or bite from infected animals
- have interacted with imported animals
- have traveled to countries where this infection is more common
- work around people who have this condition
- live with people who have developed this infection
A medical professional may diagnose monkeypox using several methods:
- A biopsy involves removing a piece of tissue and testing it for the infection.
- Lab tests involve testing the fluid from dry scabs and lesions. These samples can be checked for the virus using a PCR test.
- Medical history, including your travel history, can help your medical professional determine the risk.
Blood tests are not generally recommended. The monkeypox virus can stay in your blood for a short period. There, it is not an accurate test for diagnosing this infection.
How was monkeypox introduced to the USA?
Experts determined that a shipment of animals from Ghana imported to Texas in 2003 introduced this virus into the USA. The shipment contained about 800 small mammals representing nine different species, such as six types of rodents. Studies showed that two African giant rats and three rope squirrels were infected with the monkeypox virus.
Individuals infected with the monkeypox virus became ill after contacting infected pet prairie dogs. Research conducted after the outbreak suggested that specific activities associated with animals were more likely to result in the monkeypox virus.
Monkeypox virus is a rare condition, the same as smallpox. It mainly occurs in the western and central regions of Africa. It generally is not a cause for concern in the USA. However, the outbreak has happened, and it is necessary to be aware of the symptoms. The early signs are flu-like symptoms such as chills and fever.
After a few days, a rash will start to develop, which is the same as smallpox. But it is still necessary to be seen by a medical professional if you develop any signs.