On May 20, the World Health Organization (WHO) held an emergency meeting to discuss the recent outbreak of monkeypox after more than 100 cases were detected in Europe, the US, Australia.
It is a rare disease caused by a virus that is common only in Africa. In the new outbreak, cases have appeared in the US, Australia and many European countries such as Germany, UK, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and Sweden.
While some cases involve travelers from Africa, recent patients are believed to have been infected in the community. Particularly in the UK, the number of cases increased from 10 (May 7) to 20 at the present time. However, experts fear there are still undetected cases.
What is monkeypox?
This is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus, which is in the same family as smallpox, and the symptoms are usually less severe.
The disease is common in remote areas of Central and West Africa. The virus was first detected in captive monkeys in 1958. The first human case was reported in 1970.
Since then, sporadic cases have appeared in 10 African countries. Of these, Nigeria experienced a major outbreak in 2017, with 172 suspected cases and 61 confirmed cases. 75% of the patients were men between the ages of 21 and 40.
Cases outside of Africa were previously less common, often involving international travel or imported animals. In 2003, Israel, the UK, Singapore and the US reported 81 cases involving dogs infected with imported animals.
How monkeypox is spread
A healthy person is at risk of catching monkeypox through close contact with infected people or animals.
The virus can enter the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract, or the eyes, nose, and mouth.
Person-to-person transmission most commonly occurs via respiratory droplets, but requires prolonged direct contact. Transmitted from animals to humans through a bite or scratch. Monkeypox can be transmitted through sex.
Symptoms and treatment
Early symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle pain, swelling, back pain, and raised nodules.
Patients usually develop a rash one to three days after fever, which begins on the face and spreads to other parts of the body, such as the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. The patient has papules, blisters and then bursts, scabs, and scars.
There is currently no safe treatment for monkeypox, but most cases are mild and resolve on their own. Symptoms last two to four weeks.
The smallpox vaccine has been shown to effectively prevent the spread of the virus. The UK and Spain are now providing vaccines to those who have been exposed to reduce symptoms and limit spread.
Cases of monkeypox can sometimes be severe with some deaths in West Africa.
However, health authorities stress there is no risk of a serious outbreak and the risk to the public is very low.
“Investigations are still ongoing to determine the source of the infection. It’s important that the disease is not contagious,” said Colin Brown, Director of Infectious Diseases at the UK Health Security Service.
An Yen (According to CNBC, Reuters)
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