Updates on monkeypox.. What are its symptoms and does it threaten your health?

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) — An extremely rare disease known as monkeypox is spreading worldwide, and experts consider it to be less dangerous than smallpox.

More than 250 cases have been recorded in at least 16 countries, according to the World Health Organization. Experts say it spreads through close and prolonged contact with an infected person.

“The countries that are currently reporting monkeypox are those in which the disease is not usually spread,” Rosamund Lewis, head of the Smallpox Secretariat in the World Health Organization’s emergency program, said Tuesday during a press conference at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva.

According to the World Health Organization, monkeypox is endemic near the tropical rainforests of Central and West Africa, but is increasingly seen near urban areas.

“This is an emerging disease … it has been showing up for 20 to 30 years, so it is known … and there is an accurate description of it,” Lewis told reporters.

“The risk to the general public appears to be low, because we know that the main transmission routes are still the same,” she added.

In the United States, the first case of monkeypox was diagnosed in 2022, after the patient had recently traveled to Canada by private transportation.

In 2021, two people traveling from Nigeria to the United States became ill, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cases in other parts of the world, other than Africa, are usually associated with international travel or importation of smallpox-infected animals.

“At this time, we don’t want people to worry,” US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said Thursday on CNN’s “New Day.”

“These numbers are still low,” he added. “We want people to be aware of the symptoms, and to contact their doctor if they have any concerns.”

What are the initial symptoms of monkeypox?

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that there is an incubation period of 7 to 14 days.

The initial symptoms are similar to those we encounter with influenza, such as heat, chills, fatigue, headache, and muscle weakness, followed by swollen lymph nodes, which help the body fight infection and disease.

“The feature that distinguishes monkeypox from smallpox is swollen lymph nodes,” the agency said.

Then a widespread rash appears on the face and body, extending to the inside of the mouth, the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet.

The rash is usually painful, and is blisters of fluid surrounded by red circles.

The agency said that the pills peel and disappear within a period of two to three weeks.

According to the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control, it appears that there are more cases of patients with a rash in the groin area.

“In some cases, during the early stages of the disease, the rash is in the genital area,” John Brooks, the chief medical officer of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s division of HIV/AIDS prevention, said Monday during a news conference. and around the anus.

He added, “In some cases, this results in ulcers of the anus or genitals that are similar to other diseases such as herpes, chickenpox, or syphilis.”

How does monkeypox spread?

Experts say that close contact with an infected individual is what causes the monkeypox virus to spread.

“When the ulcers heal, the crust (which may carry an infectious virus) can fall off in the form of dust that can be inhaled,” Dr. Michael Skinner, a member of the College of Medicine, Department of Infectious Diseases at Imperial College London, explained in a statement.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Control said that transmission of infection between people can occur through large respiratory droplets.

Because these droplets usually travel only a few feet away, long-term face-to-face contact is required, according to the agency.

According to the World Health Organization, this puts health care workers and family members who care for or live with an infected person, at greater risk.

“Monkeypox can be a serious infection, with the mortality rate during other outbreaks being around 1%…often in low-income settings due to the lack of access to access to health care.”

“It would be unusual to see more than a few cases in any outbreak, and we wouldn’t see transmission levels similar to Covid,” Head said.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, common household disinfectants can kill the monkeypox virus.

How is monkeypox treated?

In a statement, Jamie Whitworth, professor of international public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, explained, “Treatment is generally beneficial, but no specific drugs are available… However, there is a vaccine that can be given to prevent disease progression.”

In the United States, a two-dose vaccine called Jynneos has been licensed to prevent monkeypox, and it can also be used for smallpox.

The vaccine has been stored by the US government in the event of any future mutations of the disease.

“Currently, we have more than 1,000 doses of those available, and we expect that level to rise very quickly in the coming weeks,” Dr. Jennifer McCuston, deputy director of the Division of Pathogenesis and High Outcome Pathology within the National Center for Emerging and Animal Infectious Diseases, told reporters Monday. The company is providing us with more doses.”

The genesis of monkeypox

The name “monkeypox” came in 1958, when “a disease similar to smallpox broke out twice in research colonies of monkeys.”

The agency added that the main vector of “monkeypox” is still unknown, although “African rodents are suspected of playing a role in transmission.”

She explained that the first known case of “monkeypox” in humans “was recorded in 1970, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, during the period of intensive efforts to eradicate smallpox.”

The agency said that an outbreak of the disease occurred in the United States in 2003, after 47 people were infected with the disease in 6 states, due to contact with pet prairie dogs.

“The pets became infected after being housed near small mammals imported from Ghana… This was the first time that human monkeypox had been reported outside Africa,” the agency said.

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