Monkeypox is a rare disease usually found in Central and West Africa that is caused by infection with monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus in the family Poxviridae.
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Monkeypox rarely spreads outside of Central and West Africa
As of Friday morning, monkeypox cases were confirmed in: the UK, the US, Portugal, Canada, Sweden, Australia, France, Italy, Germany, and Belgium.
The first known case of the current monkeypox outbreak was announced in the UK on May 7 in an individual who had traveled to Nigeria. Later cases had no link to the first case and had not travelled to where endemic.
How does monkeypox usually spread?
Infection doesn’t usually spread easily among people.
It spreads via large respiratory droplets when people are in close contact; direct contact with skin lesions or bodily fluids; or indirect contact via contaminated clothing or bedding.
Symptoms include fever, backache and pus filled boils
Most people have mild flu-like symptoms, such as fever and backache, and a rash that clears by itself within two to four weeks.
The rash starts on the face and then spreads to other parts of the body, including the genitalia. The rash features boils that fill with pus and ultimately crust over and fall off.
How dangerous is monkeypox?
The condition can be deadly in some cases. The proportion of those with infection that die from it ranges from 1% to 10% depending on the strain, according to the WHO.
UK health officials said on May 16 its cases were from the West African clade, which is associated with a lower risk of death, according to Paul Griffin, an associate professor of medicine.
How is monkeypox treated?
There is no specific vaccine for proper treatment, but the vaccine for smallpox can be used to control outbreaks.
Treatment is mostly supportive – as for a cough or cold, for example. Most people recover without treatment within a few weeks. Two antiviral drugs, called cidofovir and tecovirimat, can also be used to control outbreaks.