Symptoms of Monkeypox
The monkeypox virus is the rare disease known as monkeypox. It causes flu-like symptoms and a rash. It is a member of the orthopoxvirus family, which also includes the more well-known smallpox virus.
Two outbreaks of a condition resembling the pox that were occurring in groups of monkeys being used for research led to the discovery of monkeypox in 1958. Although skin-to-skin contact with an infected person can sometimes spread the disease, rodent interaction with infected humans accounts for the majority of its transmission. The monkeypox virus has two distinct kinds (clades), one of which originated in Central Africa and the other in West Africa. The less dangerous West African clade is the origin of the current global pandemic (2022).
It’s uncommon to get monkeypox. However, the number of cases is rising in Africa and other areas that haven’t previously experienced these infections.
Monkeypox was primarily observed in Africa for many years. It does, however, occasionally appear in other nations, such as the United States. The United States experienced the first monkeypox outbreak outside of Africa in the spring of 2003. Texas received a consignment from Ghana with diseased animals. The virus was transmitted by the sick rodents to domesticated prairie dogs, which ultimately infected 47 people in the Midwest.
Viruses that were formerly largely confined to certain regions can more easily spread worldwide as international travel becomes more widespread. Monkeypox was discovered in a resident of the United States who had come to the country from Nigeria in the summer of 2021. Then, in 2022, outbreaks spread to parts of the world besides Africa, such as Europe and the Americas.
Signs and symptoms of monkeypox
It could take days or even weeks after exposure before you experience symptoms of monkeypox. Flu-like symptoms are among the early indications of monkeypox, including;
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Muscle aches and backache
- Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
A rash frequently appears a few days later. The rash initially appears as unpleasant, flat, red pimples. These lumps develop into blisters that ooze pus. The blisters eventually harden over and fall off; the entire process can take two to four weeks. Additionally, ulcers in the mouth, vagina, or anus are possible.
Not every monkeypox patient experiences every symptom. In fact, many cases in the current (2022) outbreak aren’t exhibiting the typical constellation of symptoms. Only a few lesions, no enlarged lymph nodes, a lower fever, and fewer additional symptoms of sickness are present in this unusual presentation. You may possess it without realizing it. Even if you don’t exhibit many symptoms of the infection, you can still infect others by staying in close contact for an extended period of time.
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When you come into contact with an animal or a person who is infected with the virus, you could develop monkeypox. Animals can transmit diseases to people by biting or scratching people, or by coming into direct touch with their blood, bodily fluids, or lesions from an affected animal (sores).
Although less frequent, monkeypox can spread from person to person. When you come into contact with the sores, scabs, respiratory droplets, or oral secretions of an infected individual, typically through close, personal interactions like hugging, kissing, or intercourse, person-to-person spread (transmission) takes place.
Although study is ongoing, it is unclear if the virus is spread through semen or vaginal fluids.
Monkeypox can also spread through contact with recently contaminated items, such as clothing, bedding, and other linens worn by an infected person or an infected animal.
How long do monkeypox symptoms last?
After being exposed to the virus for three weeks, monkeypox symptoms typically appear. When experiencing flu-like symptoms, a rash typically appears 1-4 days later.
From the moment symptoms of monkeypox appear until the rash has completely disappeared and a new layer of skin has developed, a person with monkeypox might transmit it to others. There are some persons who have infections but show no symptoms. However, there is currently no proof that monkeypox spreads from unaffected individuals. The CDC will keep an eye out for any fresh or modified transmission-related information.
How is monkeypox diagnosed?
Given the rarity of monkeypox, a healthcare professional may initially consider other rash infections like measles or chickenpox. However, enlarged lymph nodes typically set monkeypox apart from other poxes.
Your healthcare provider collects tissue from an open sore to diagnose monkeypox (lesion). Then, a lab performs polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis on it (genetic fingerprinting). A blood sample may also be required to check for the monkeypox virus or the antibodies your immune system produces to fight it.
Can monkeypox be cured?
Typically, symptoms of monkeypox last for two to four weeks. Monkeypox typically resolves on its own without medical intervention. After a diagnosis, your doctor will keep an eye on your health, try to alleviate your symptoms, prevent dehydration, and administer antibiotics to treat any developing secondary bacterial infections.
Monkeypox does not currently have an approved antiviral therapy. Although they haven’t been researched as a monkeypox treatment, antiviral medications may be helpful. There are a number of investigational antivirals with activity against monkeypox, but they can only be obtained through a research study.
Monkeypox can be prevented using a smallpox vaccination, but its usage is now restricted to clinical studies.
Limiting person-to-person transmission and reducing human contact with diseased animals are essential to prevention. The best way to stop the virus that causes monkeypox from spreading is to:
- Avoid contact with bedding and other materials contaminated with the virus.
- Thoroughly cook all foods that contain animal meat or parts.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
- Avoid contact with infected animals.
- Practice safe sex.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
- Avoid contact with people who may be infected with the virus.
- Practice safe sex, including the use of condoms and dental dams.
- Wear a mask when around others.
- Use personal protective equipment (PPE) when caring for people with the virus.