Monkeypox Virus: All you need to know
You’ve probably heard about the recent news concerning monkeypox outbreaks around the world. Unfortunately, shortly after the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, we may face another pandemic: the Monkeypox Virus pandemic. In this paper, you can find the answers for common questions about the monkeypox.
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox virus (MPXV) is an enveloped double-stranded DNA virus from the Ortho-poxvirus (OPXV) genus of the Poxviridae family. It is the smallpox virus’s less harmful and infectious cousin. Monkeypox is a zoonotic illness caused by an infection with the monkeypox virus, having symptoms and signs similar to smallpox.
How many cases of monkeypox are there?
According to the latest data by the World Health Organization (WHO), as of June 1, 2022, there are more than 550 confirmed cases in at least 30 countries outside Africa, where the disease is endemic. You can access the most recent updates on monkeypox by visiting the websites of institutions such as WHO, FDA, CDC, and ECDC.
How serious is the monkeypox disease?
The clinical manifestation of monkeypox is typically moderate, as seen by the majority of cases documented in Europe to date. The West African clade has been shown to have a case-fatality rate of 3.3 percent in Nigeria. Children and young adults have a greater mortality rate, and immunocompromised people are more vulnerable to severe forms of the disease. Most people recover in a few of weeks.
What are the symptoms of a monkeypox infection?
Initial symptoms of a monkeypox infection include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion. Around 1 to 5 days following the early symptoms, the patient usually develops a rash which often begins from the face and spreads to the rest of the body. In time, the rash forms into raised nodules, progresses into vesicles, and to puss-filled blisters, following with scabs before falling off. The incubation period between the first contact and the development of symptoms is 5 to 21 days, and symptoms typically last fade away in 2 to 4 weeks.
How do you catch monkeypox?
Monkeypox virus spreads through close contact with infected animals and humans, or contaminated materials. Possible entry routes for the monkeypox virus include broken skin, respiratory tract, and mucous membranes such as the eyes, nose, or mouth. You can catch monkeypox from animals through contact with the blood, body fluids, and lesion material of an infected animal, as well as through scratches and bites. Consuming inadequately cooked meat and other products from infected animals may also be a possible source of infection.
You can also catch a monkeypox infection through contact with the respiratory secretions, bodily fluids, and skin lesions of an infected person. The virus can also spread through contact with recently infected objects and surfaces. In addition to direct contact to contaminated animals, people, objects, and surfaces, the monkeypox virus can transmit from the mother to the fetus though the placenta.
Is monkeypox a sexually transmitted disease (STD)?
While it can spread through close contact during sexual intercourse, monkeypox is neither considered as a sexually transmitted disease (STD) nor a sexually transmitted infection. Moreover, although experts have highlighted the sexuality of the latest monkeypox cases to inform certain communities concerning signs and symptoms of monkeypox, it should be noted that the virus spreads through intimate contact, irrespective to a person’s sexual orientation.
Can domestic pets transmit the monkeypox virus to humans?
Whether monkeypox virus can specifically infect domestic pets remains unknown. Although it was discovered in monkeys kept for research and is known to infect several mammalian species such as rodents and prairie dogs, the monkeypox virus is endemic in animals in some regions of Central and Western Africa. Concerning the current outbreak, no animal infections have been reported so far.
Can I get scars from monkeypox lesions?
Health experts note that monkeypox lesions might leave scars, especially in the cases that the lesions are picked or contain fluid inside. The lesions are more likely to heal without leaving scars in younger patients. In people with darker skin, the scabs might also leave hypopigmented areas as they fall off.
Does It Use a Test Kit to Detect the Monkeypox Virus?
Primers and probes for specific areas of the Monkeypox virus are produced and detected using a fluorescence PCR equipment. Because the target region is duplicated twice in each cycle (amplification), the sensitivity is improved. This is why the PCR method is called the “ideal standard.”
Rapid antigen tests for monkeypox virus are chromatographic immunoassays that detect the presence of monkeypox-specific proteins, or antigens, in human samples. In lateral flow test format, these tests often employ a sandwich immunodetection technique. Rapid antigen testing for monkeypox virus does not necessitate sample collection and processing in a laboratory.
A blood test that recognizes and measures antibodies is known as an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). This test can determine whether you have antibodies to specific infectious diseases. If you have signs or symptoms of any of the disorders listed above, your doctor may advise you to have this test.
What vaccines and treatments are available against monkeypox?
There is currently a monkeypox vaccine under development. However, vaccination for monkeypox is not available to the public just yet. Still, since the monkeypox virus is closely related to the smallpox virus, vaccines which were originally designed for smallpox are known to effectively prevent monkeypox when given before or within a few days of exposure.
Likewise, there are antiviral medications such as tecovirimat and brincidofovir which were originally developed against smallpox virus, along with vaccinia immune globulin, which is an antibody treatment developed through the purification of antibodies produced in response to smallpox vaccine.
If I have been vaccinated against smallpox as a kid, am I protected against the monkeypox virus?
The monkeypox virus belongs to the same family with the virus that causes the smallpox disease. Since these viruses are related, the smallpox vaccine is known to offer protection against monkeypox. In fact, the smallpox vaccine is known to be more than 85 percent efficient against the monkeypox disease. Still, as routine smallpox immunization for the general public have stopped many years ago in most countries and regions around the world, health experts warn that smallpox vaccines that have been received then may not offer much protection against the monkeypox virus.
What can I do to protect myself against the monkeypox virus?
To protect yourself and others against the monkeypox disease, you should refrain from close contact with wild animals, stray animals, or animals that appear unwell. Moreover, you should make sure to avoid eating bush meat and inadequately cooked meat. You should avoid sharing personal belongings such as towels or bedding with people who may be infected and keep from touching the belongings of a potentially infected person.
Health experts recommend everyone to be aware of the symptoms of monkeypox and to seek medical attention if you notice any symptoms, especially an unexplained rash. You can also reduce the risk of infection by keeping physical distance, wearing masks, and maintaining personal hygiene. Experts suggest that particularly for those who live in regions which experience a big outbreak, limiting sexual partners may also be a good idea.