Everything you need to know about monkeypox

Though human-to-human transmission is limited, it can spread when someone is in close contact with an infected person : Representative image, Shutterstock: WeStudio

According to The Centre for Disease Control, monkeypox is a rare disease that is caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. It is now in the news after the UK health authorities confirmed a case of monkeypox in a person with a recent travel history to Nigeria where he is believed to have contracted it. The patient is currently being treated in an isolation unit at St Thomas hospital in London.

What is monkeypox?
According to WHO, monkeypox is a zoonosis, a disease that is transmitted from animals to humans. The disease was first discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research, hence the name ‘monkeypox.’

The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) during a period of intensified effort to eliminate smallpox.

Though human-to-human transmission is limited, it can spread when someone is in close contact with an infected person. The virus can enter the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract or the eyes, nose or mouth.

The incubation period of monkeypox is usually from 6 to 13 days but can range from 5 to 21 days. Initial symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. There can also be skin eruption that usually begins within 1-3 days of the appearance of fever.

As per WHO, there is currently no specific treatment recommended for monkeypox. Vaccination against smallpox with the vaccinia vaccine was demonstrated through several observational studies to be about 85% effective in preventing monkeypox. Thus, prior childhood smallpox vaccination may result in a milder disease course.

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