Monkeypox, How Worried Should we About it?

Although only a few hundred instances have been reported so far, they appear to be multiplying rapidly, raising fears that the virus is spreading unnoticed.

What exactly is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a disease that primarily affects monkeys, but it can also harm people on rare occasions. Fever, headaches, and muscle pains are the first signs, followed by a rash and blisters all over the body. A virus that is closely related to smallpox causes it.

It’s not a brand-new illness. The virus was first discovered in lab monkeys in the 1950s and spread to humans in 1970. Several small-scale outbreaks have occurred since then. Monkeypox is divided into two types: a milder Western African strain with a 1% untreated fatality rate, and a considerably more dangerous Congo variant with a fatality rate of around 10%. Fortunately, the cases discovered thus far appear to be of the milder type, but the severity is still comparable to COVID-19. There’s also the possibility that this is a novel strain, although nothing has been confirmed thus yet.

What is the rate of monkeypox transmission?

According to a list of reports gathered by Moritz Kraemer of the University of Oxford, John Brownstein of Boston Children’s Hospital, and their colleagues, 141 instances have been confirmed as of this writing, although the number is constantly climbing. Cases have been discovered in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Sweden, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, and France thus far.

The cases are currently doubling every two days, evoking unsettling early-2020 memories, and researchers are fearful that many more cases are going unnoticed.

Monkeypox, on the other hand, does not appear to spread as quickly as COVID-19. Monkeypox appears to only spread by bigger droplets and requires intimate contact (whereas COVID-19 was also shown to spread through aerosols). To pass the monkeypox, you must be really close to someone. Skin-to-skin contact or eating undercooked meat from an infected animal could possibly transmit the sickness.

Is it necessary to be concerned?

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) claims that the risk to the public is still very low, and other health organisations have echoed this sentiment. However, because the number of cases is rapidly increasing, some researchers are urging the World Health Organization to declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), and the WHO may hold a meeting to address this soon.

However, it’s unknown if the cases are all connected, and authorities are hoping that, like the few prior outbreaks, this one will be contained through swift contact tracing; however, it’s unclear whether this will be the case. Although the threat does not appear to be as severe as COVID-19, authorities and researchers are keeping a close eye on the situation to see if the alarming growth continues.

Is monkeypox curable?

In an ironic twist, our victory over smallpox may be setting the door for future monkeypox epidemics. The two viruses are very similar, and the smallpox vaccine prevents monkeypox to an extent of 85 percent. Routine smallpox vaccinations in the United States (and a few other countries) were discontinued decades ago when smallpox was declared eradicated. Monkeypox appears to be resurfacing in unvaccinated children.

Tecovirimat, an antiviral medication, is one of the possible treatments (also sold under its brand name Tpoxx). The vaccine is licenced for both smallpox and monkeypox in Europe, but just smallpox in the United States. However, if things worsen, the medicine will almost certainly be utilized in the United States. Still, this medication is intended to treat symptoms rather than cure the condition.

Finally, it’s difficult to predict how severe this outbreak will become, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned in the last two years, it’s that pandemics are so simple to catch that extra care and attention are warranted. In fact, several researchers (most notably the authors of a 2018 publication) have warned that monkeypox is becoming increasingly dangerous. At the time, their paper stated:

“The monkeypox virus is a high-threat pathogen that causes a serious disease.” As a result, there is a pressing need to concentrate on enhancing surveillance capabilities, which will give crucial data for planning adequate preventative, preparedness, and response efforts.”

The complete study can be found at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30234087/

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