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Health Tips August 05, 2022

What You Should Know About The Monkeypox Virus

Medically Reviewed by Pharm Chioma

Written by Adaobi Oduenyi

Monkeypox is a rare disease similar to smallpox caused by the monkeypox virus. It is found mostly in areas of Africa but has been seen in other areas of the world. It causes flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills, and a rash that can take weeks to clear. There is no proven treatment for monkeypox, but it usually goes away on its own

The WHO says an international public health emergency is an extraordinary event that poses a serious public health risk. It is different from a pandemic, like the one caused by the coronavirus.

A pandemic is a global outbreak of a virus that infects large numbers of people and causes a high number of deaths, often disrupting daily life and causing general hardship.

Symptoms of monkeypox can include

  • Fever

  • Headache

  • Muscle aches and backache

  • Swollen lymph nodes

  • Chills

  • Exhaustion

  • Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)

  • A rash that may be located on or near the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus (butthole) but could also be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, and face, or mouth.

  • The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing.

  • The rash can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy.

  • You may experience all or only a few symptoms

Sometimes, people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.

Most people with monkeypox will get a rash.

Some people have developed a rash before (or without) other symptoms.

Monkeypox symptoms usually start within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus. If someone has flu-like symptoms, they will usually develop a rash 1-4 days later.

Monkeypox can be spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.

“Monkeypox is a rare disease similar to smallpox caused by the monkeypox virus. It’s found mostly in areas of Africa but has been seen in other areas of the world. It causes flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills, and a rash that can take weeks to clear.“

How Can Monkeypox Spread?

It can spread from person to person through close contact. Someone who's infected with it can pass it to you through:

  • Contact with body fluids like blood or semen

  • Contact with monkeypox lesions on their skin (including inside their nose and mouth)

  • Respiratory droplets that you breathe in

  • Things that have touched infected body fluids, like bedding or clothing (This happens less often.)

During the 2022 global outbreak, monkeypox spread mainly from person to person, a study in The New England Journal of Medicine  suggested. The researchers found that 98% of people who got diagnosed with monkeypox between late April and late June of 2022 were gay or bisexual men. The researchers suspected that the virus spread through sexual activity in 95% of infected people.

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What should you do if you think you have monkeypox?

If You Have a New or Unexplained Rash or Other Symptoms...

  • Avoid close contact, including sex or being intimate with anyone, until you have been checked out by a healthcare provider.

  • If you do not have a provider or health insurance, visit a health clinic near you.

  • When you see a healthcare provider, wear a mask, and remind them that this virus is circulating in the area.

How do you prevent the monkeypox virus?

A smallpox vaccine provides protection against monkeypox, but its use is currently limited to clinical trials.

Prevention depends on decreasing human contact with infected animals and limiting person-to-person spread. The best way to help prevent the spread of the monkeypox virus is to:

  • Avoid contact with infected animals (especially sick or dead animals).

  • Avoid contact with bedding and other materials contaminated with the virus.

  • Thoroughly cook all foods that contain animal meat or parts.

  • 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.

  • Wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose when around others.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

  • Use personal protective equipment (PPE) when caring for people infected with the virus.

Can you die from Monkeypox?

Although no one has died from this outbreak to date. But, monkeypox can lead to other problems (complications) like pneumonia and infections in your brain (encephalitis) or eyes, which can be fatal.

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