EXPLAINER: What Is Monkeypox And How It Spreads?

Explainer Health

With the first case of Monkeypox reported in India, the alarm bells have been started to ring. A 35-year-old man from Kerala returned from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) three days ago where he contracted the disease.

The Monkeypox outbreak began in May when suspected cases were reported in Europe. Around 60 countries have reported outbreaks of the disease. The world has seen 12,556 cases so far. The UK and the US both have more than 1,800 confirmed cases each. 

Now, with the first case in India, Monkeypox has entered in the WHO South-East Asia Region for the first time this year. The health department and experts are warning people to take precautions so as not to have it turn into a widespread outbreak. 

In order to manage the outbreak, World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that countries with infections identify all Monkeypox cases and contacts.

With the information available at World Health Organization (WHO), US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UK Health Security Agency, and India’s Health Ministry, we have created this explainer on Monkeypox.

What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is caused by the Monkeypox virus. It is part of the same family of viruses that causes smallpox, although it is milder and chances of infection are low. It is a type of viral infection more common in West and Central Africa. 

It was first discovered in a monkey in 1958. Despite the name, it was not originated in Monkeys. The source of the disease remains still unknown.

The first human case of Monkeypox was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in a 9-month-old boy.

How does it spread?

Monkeypox is a virus that is transmitted to humans from animals. It spreads through close contact with an infected person (through rash, scabs, or body fluids) or animal, or with material contaminated with the virus.

Prolonged face-to-face contact or intimate physical contact (kissing, cuddling, or sex) can also increase the risk of transmission. 

People who do not have Monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others.

What are the symptoms?

Monkeypox symptoms usually start within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus. Fever, intense headache, swelling of the lymph nodes, back pain, and muscle aches are initial symptoms

Within 1 to 5 days after the appearance of fever, the rash like pimples or blisters begins to appear on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, and genitals, or anus. Rashes in the cornea can lead to blindness.

Typically, the illness lasts 2-4 weeks.

How risky it is?

Experts are worried that the outbreaks are occurring in locations where it has never been reported before. They are investing in understanding the origin of the current cases and whether anything about the virus has changed.

But the good news is that Monkeypox is not as easily transmitted as the coronavirus that started the Covid-19 pandemic. 

There are two main strains – West African and Central African – of the monkey virus that are known to exist. West African strain is a milder one and that is now spreading in the world. It does not appear to cause severe illness in a large fraction of cases.

The children seem to be prone to the disease. According to AIIMS, severe cases of Monkeypox occur more commonly among children and can be fatal for them as compared to the coronavirus.

Risk of Gay Sex

The people who are most exposed appear to be gay and bisexual men. 

“Cases have been reported mainly, but not only, among men who have sex with men. Some countries are beginning to report cases of apparent community transmission, including some cases in women,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

But anyone who comes into close contact with someone who has Monkeypox could potentially get the virus. Anyone experiencing symptoms that could indicate Monkeypox should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

What is the treatment?

There are no treatments specifically for Monkeypox. Having been genetically similar to smallpox, antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox may be used to prevent and treat Monkeypox virus infections.

Two vaccines licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are available for preventing Monkeypox infection. But no data are available yet on the effectiveness of these vaccines in the current outbreak, although people vaccinated against smallpox in childhood may experience a milder disease.

WHO does not recommend mass vaccination against Monkeypox.

Also, clinical diagnosis of Monkeypox can be difficult, and it is often confused with other infections such as chickenpox.

What are the precautions?

Expert advises to avoid close or skin-to-skin contact (like touching, kissing, having sex) with people who have a rash that looks like Monkeypox. Washing hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is preferred. 

Scabs are also infectious and care must be taken to avoid infection through handling bedding, clothing, and so on.

Monkeypox patients should avoid contact with other people until their lesions have healed and the scabs have dried off. They must stay in a separate room or area away from people or pets you live with.

Incubation can last six to 13 days on average, but it can last anywhere from five to 21 days.

If you feel any of the symptom, please visit to the doctor as soon as possible.


Title:EXPLAINER: What Is Monkeypox And How It Spreads?

By: Mayur Deokar 

Result: Explainer