Monkeypox now a global emergency; here's all you need to know about viral disease
Monkeypox has been declared a global public health emergency of international concern by the WHO after more than 16,000 cases and five deaths were reported from 75 countries.
- Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic infection which can spread from animals to humans, from person to person.
- The disease can cause a range of signs and symptoms.
- More than 16,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported from 75 countries
Monkeypox outbreak: The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Saturday (July 23, 2022) declared monkeypox a global public health emergency of international concern after more than 16,000 cases and five deaths were reported from 75 countries. The global health body called on nations to work closely with communities of men who have sex with men and adopt measures that protect the health, human rights and dignity of affected communities.
"We have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly, through new modes of transmission, about which we understand too little, and which meets the criteria in the International Health Regulations. For all of these reasons, I have decided that the global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
The WHO label - a "public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC)" - is designed to trigger a coordinated international response and could unlock funding to collaborate on sharing vaccines and treatments.
"WHO’s assessment is that the risk of monkeypox is moderate globally and in all regions, except in the European region where we assess the risk as high. There is also a clear risk of further international spread, although the risk of interference with international traffic remains low for the moment," Tedros added.
With the tools we have right now, we can stop #monkeypox transmission and bring this outbreak under control. It’s essential that all countries work closely with affected communities to adopt measures that protect their health, human rights and dignity.pic.twitter.com/DqyvRtB8w2 — Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) July 23, 2022
The WHO chief also said that, for the moment, this is an outbreak that is concentrated among men who have sex with men, especially those with multiple sexual partners.
"That means that this is an outbreak that can be stopped with the right strategies in the right groups," he said.
Here's all you need to know about monkeypox:
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is an illness caused by the monkeypox virus. It is a viral zoonotic infection that can spread from animals to humans. It can also spread from person to person.
The disease is called monkeypox because it was first identified in colonies of monkeys kept for research in 1958. It was later detected in humans in 1970.
What are symptoms of monkeypox virus?
According to the World Health Organisation, monkeypox can cause a range of signs and symptoms. While some people have mild symptoms, others may develop more serious symptoms and need care in a health facility. The most common symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy, and swollen lymph nodes. This is followed or accompanied by the development of a rash which can last for two to three weeks.
The rash can be found on the face, palms of the hands, soles of the feet, eyes, mouth, throat, groin, and genital and/or anal regions of the body. The number of lesions can range from one to several thousand. Lesions begin flat, then fill with liquid before they crust over, dry up and fall off, with a fresh layer of skin forming underneath.
#Monkeypox is a viral disease that spreads through contact with an infected person. Learn how to prevent, identify and stay safe from it. pic.twitter.com/FmUqmaQPg7 — Ministry of Health (@MoHFW_INDIA) July 23, 2022
Symptoms typically last two to three weeks and usually go away on their own or with supportive care, such as medication for pain or fever. People remain infectious until all of the lesions have crusted over, the scabs fallen off and a new layer of skin has formed underneath.
Those at higher risk for severe disease or complications include people who are pregnant, children and persons that are immunocompromised.
How does monkeypox disease spread?
The monkeypox virus spreads from person to person through close contact with someone who has a monkeypox rash, including through face-to-face, skin-to-skin, mouth-to-mouth or mouth-to-skin contact, including sexual contact. When an infectious person touches clothing, bedding, towels, objects, electronics and surfaces, someone else who touches these items can then become infected. It is also possible to become infected from breathing in skin flakes or virus from clothing, bedding or towels.
The virus can also spread through direct contact with the mouth, respiratory droplets and possibly through short-range aerosols.
#Monkeypox is a viral disease that spreads through contact with an infected person. Learn how to prevent, identify and stay safe from it. pic.twitter.com/XA95LLI2XA — Ministry of Health (@MoHFW_INDIA) July 23, 2022
Monkeypox can also spread from someone who is pregnant to the fetus, after birth through skin-to-skin contact, or from a parent with monkeypox to an infant or child during close contact.
How can you protect yourself against monkeypox?
Reduce your risk of catching monkeypox by limiting close contact with people who have suspected or confirmed monkeypox, or with animals who could be infected.
Clean and disinfect environments that could have been contaminated with the monkeypox virus from someone who is infected regularly.
What's treatment for monkeypox?
People with monkeypox should follow the advice of their health care provider. Symptoms normally resolve on their own without the need for treatment, but if needed, medication for pain (analgesics) and fever (antipyretics) can be used to relieve some symptoms, according to WHO.
It is important for anyone with monkeypox to stay hydrated, eat well, and get enough sleep.
People infected with monkeypox should also avoid scratching their skin and take care of their rash by cleaning their hands before and after touching lesions and keeping skin dry and uncovered (unless they are unavoidably in a room with someone else, in which case they should cover it with clothing or a bandage until they are able to isolate again).
The rash can be kept clean with sterilised water or antiseptic. Saltwater rinses can be used for lesions in the mouth, and warm baths with baking soda and Epsom salts can help with lesions on the body. Lidocaine can be applied to oral and perianal lesions to relieve pain.
An antiviral that was developed to treat smallpox (tecovirimat) was approved in January 2022 by the European Medicines Agency for the treatment of monkeypox.
Can children catch monkeypox?
Children can also get monkeypox if they have close contact with someone who has symptoms. There, however, have been a small number of kids with monkeypox in the current outbreak.