The World Health Organization (WHO) has just recently declared Monkeypox a global health emergency. With the Philippines having detected its first monkeypox case last July 28, no time is better than now to know more about the virus and how to be safe from it.
What is Monkeypox?
According to the WHO, Monkeypox is an illness caused by the Monkeypox virus. It is a zoonotic infection in the same family as the virus causing Smallpox, hence the reason they share similar symptoms.
Is Monkeypox deadly?
Monkeypox is a self-limited disease with symptoms lasting from 2 to 4 weeks. Compared to Smallpox, the symptoms are milder and rarely fatal. However, the severity of infection still depends on several factors such as the extent of viral exposure, the patient’s health status (presence of comorbidities), and the nature of complications. Known complications of Monkeypox are secondary skin infections, pneumonia, sepsis (severe infection), encephalitis (inflammation in the brain), and corneal infection with loss of vision.
How is it transmitted?
It is possible to get monkeypox from an infected animal. The animal hosts are mainly rodents & primates. Transmission is via direct contact with blood, bodily fluids, and cutaneous & mucosal lesions of infected animals.
Human-to-human transmission is possible through close contact with respiratory secretions and skin lesions of infected individuals. This can also be passed on via the placenta from the mother to the fetus (cause of Congenital Monkeypox) or close contact during and after birth. Further studies still need to be done to confirm if the disease is sexually transmitted as well.
Fomite transmission is also noted in Monkeypox (spread by touching contaminated objects).
Mainly, monkeypox is transmitted through close contact with someone who is infected and has a monkeypox rash. Monkeypox rashes are only assumed to be safe and not infectious when all of the scabs have already fallen off and a new layer of skin is formed.
The virus can also affect environments when touched by the person infected. Similar to Coronavirus disease, monkeypox is spread through fomite transmission as well. This refers to the breathing in of skin flakes or the virus from clothing, bedding, and towels.
Other modes of transmission are still under study and have yet to be confirmed.
How do I prevent myself from getting infected?
The risk of contracting monkeypox is greatly reduced when limiting close contact with people who have been traced or confirmed with Monkeypox. It is also important to always disinfect the environment you are in, and the belongings you have.
Similar to the health protocols for COVID-19, the transmission of the virus will be minimized with the observance of proper hygiene, washing of hands, and social distancing.
How do I know if I have monkeypox?
Symptoms of Monkeypox can include:
- Acute fever onset (>38.5C)
- Intense headache
- Muscle and body pains (Myalgia)
- Swollen lymph nodes (Lymphadenopathy)
- Exhaustion (Intense Asthenia)
- Respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, sore throat)
- Rashes are usually located on the face, mouth, throat, groin, genital and/or anal regions, palms of the hand, and soles of the feet.
The incubation period (the period between exposure to the appearance of symptoms) is from 5 to 21 days. While the duration of symptoms may range from 2 to 4 weeks.
Rashes usually develop within 1 to 3 days after the onset of fever (along with other symptoms of headache, lymphadenopathy, body pain, and intense asthenia).
I think I have monkeypox, what should I do?
Consult your doctor. It is important to report your current symptoms, health condition, and history to the necessary contacts. To prevent the spread of the virus, the person infected should completely isolate themselves until all rashes/lesions have fully healed, which is around the whole duration of the illness (approximately 2 to 4 weeks).
Is there a vaccine for Monkeypox?
Yes. A vaccine that prevents Monkeypox has been recently approved. However, as of August 1, the vaccine has yet to be distributed in the Philippines.
The key to great health and safety is being knowledgeable. Updates will be thoroughly posted by our local news channels. If you are unsure or feeling unwell, do not hesitate to reach out to our specialist doctors here at Medgate.