Monkeypox outbreak: 10 common questions you need to know about this virus

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India continues to record an alarming number of new cases of coronavirus every day. However, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare reports that the country has already received 204.84 million doses of the covid-19 vaccine as part of the ongoing national covid-19 vaccination drive. While we are taking precautions against this outbreak, the monkeypox virus has emerged as a new cause for concern.

India has so far reported 8 cases, with 5 and 3 patients in Kerala and Delhi respectively. However, on July 30, India confirmed its first monkeypox death in the country. People’s concern increased.

So to answer your frequently asked questions (FAQs) about this virus, Health Shots spoke with Dr. Aniket Mule, Consultant Internal Medicine, Wockhardt Hospitals, Mira Road, Mumbai.

1. What are monkey goats?

A virus associated with smallpox, monkey goats commonly found in West and Central Africa. It was discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of the disease, similar to pox, were observed in laboratory monkeys for study purposes, and from which the name is derived. The monkeypox virus belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus of the Poxviridae family and is not as deadly.

Awareness of monkeypox is important for prevention. Image credit: Shutterstock

2. How does monkeypox spread?

This virus can spread from person to person. Another way of contracting the virus is contact with an infected person, touching infected bed linen or the bite of an infected animal. Another way of infection is by touching the clothes of an infected person.

3. What symptoms of monkeypox should people be aware of?

Some of the worrying symptoms of monkeypox include a rash on the face or other parts of the body, fever, headaches, muscle and back pain, chills, fatigue and swollen lymph nodes. If you have these symptoms, you should see a doctor.

Read also: Monkey Goats: Early Signs to Look Out for in Children

4. Which age group is most susceptible to monkeypox? Is it more common in men or women?

It often affects people of all ages, from young children to the elderly, and does not target any age group or gender. If someone is found to have monkeypox, they should take the utmost precautions to protect themselves. The risk of contracting monkeypox is higher in those who have had an organ transplant or cancer.

Remember that some people are at higher risk of getting monkeypox. These include newborns, young children and people with underlying immunodeficiencies.

monkey goats
Children are susceptible to monkeypox. Image credit: Shutterstock

5. What are the effects of monkeypox?

It is usually milder. But sometimes it can cause significant consequences or even death. When it comes to health, we need to be proactive and take all necessary precautions to protect ourselves from monkeypox.

6. How can we prevent monkeypox?

Do not come into contact with infected animals or people. Try to maintain personal hygiene and wash your hands with soap and water. Wear masks or disinfect frequently touched surfaces. And if you think you have monkeypox, stay away from other people and seek medical attention.

Read also: As the tomato fever scare spreads across India, here’s how to protect your kids

7. Why should monkey goats be a cause for concern?

It can spread from one individual to another. And because this virus can be deadly, it is alarming. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, one in ten patients who contract monkeypox dies, especially younger patients. However, mild cases can make a full recovery within a few weeks. This virus usually enters the body through mucous membranes, respiratory tract or skin wounds (eyes, nose or mouth). Try to follow all the doctor’s recommendations. Never ignore the signs of this.

8. How can we treat monkeypox?

There is no treatment available for monkeypox. However, the risk of contracting this virus can be reduced by vaccination against smallpox.

monkey goats
Understand its symptoms clearly to avoid confusion with other diseases. Image credit: Shutterstock

9. What is monkey fever?

The virus that causes monkey fever (also known as Kyasanur forest disease) is a member of the Flaviviridae family and is spread by ticks, birds and other animals. It is a vector-borne disease. It usually affects both humans and monkeys. The first case was in March 1957 in the Kyasanur forest in Karnataka, where many monkeys died and later people became ill.

10. How does monkeypox differ from monkey fever?

The symptoms of monkeypox, a viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted from animals to humans), are similar to those of smallpox, but monkeypox is less severe. Monkey goats were discovered in a colony of monkeys where they were kept for research. The disease, known as Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD) or monkey fever, is transmitted by ticks, which are also common hosts for rodents, shrews and monkeys. A tick bite causes a human infection.

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