With more than 17,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox worldwide, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency. This classification is the highest state of alarm that the WHO can declare for a disease or virus. Monkeypox is typically concentrated in central and western Africa, where the disease is endemic. However, experts fear that monkeypox will soon become more rampant in the United States and Europe. Here is everything you need to know about monkeypox and how to protect yourself.
How Does Monkeypox Get Transmitted?
The disease is typically transmitted through close contact with an infected person or animal for a prolonged period of time. This infection can spread by way of lesions, body fluids, or respiratory droplets. People can also become infected by coming in contact with infected clothing or bedsheets.
Telltale Symptoms of Monkeypox
There are several telltale signs that indicate someone has contracted the disease. Those infected with monkeypox may first encounter symptoms such as fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, and muscle aches. Then comes the development of “pox,” or a rash that spreads across the face and body.
The most severe cases tend to occur in children, pregnant women, or those with weaker immune systems. Thankfully, Monkeypox is not a serious virus, and recovery usually happens within two to four weeks without the need for treatment. Also, scientists say that monkeypox is much less contagious than viruses such as Covid-19. However, the severity also depends on which strain of the disease has been transmitted. The monkeypox strain responsible for the current outbreak in the U.S is the West African variant which has a fatality rate of between 1 and 3 percent. This variant is significantly milder than the Congo Basin strain, which has a fatality rate of 10 percent.
How the Monkeypox Outbreak Is Being Treated
Since monkeypox and smallpox come from the same family of viruses, vaccines and antiviral drugs previously developed for smallpox can still be used to fight monkeypox. Two vaccines have been approved for preventing the spread of monkeypox in people who have already been exposed to the virus. The Jynneos vaccine was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the prevention of Monkeypox. The ACAM2000 vaccine was approved by FDA for use against smallpox but can also be used to protect against monkeypox.