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Eight areas have reported cases of monkeypox recently. The cases were unexpected. The affected areas are Italy, Canada, Australia, the U.K., Portugal, the U.S., and Spain.
Even though the outbreak is small currently, it has become a concern. A viral infection that causes rash and fever does not normally spread across the world. However, the illness seems to be heading through many new areas. This is caused by infected individuals going into close contact with others.
A Yale Medicine expert on infectious diseases and professor of pediatrics and medicine associate, Dr. Richard Martinello, explained that he expects that in the next few weeks more cases will be reported. However, he does not anticipate that they will see a large rise in the numbers.
Symptoms of Monkeypox
The monkeypox virus is a DNA infection that causes a distinctive rash of bumps and a fever. Other symptoms can also be swollen lymph nodes, headaches, fatigue, and muscle aches. The illness has been around for many years. The name originated when it was first discovered in 1958 during a monkey outbreak.
It primarily spreads by an overflow event from sick animals to people. Then, individuals can spread it by having multiple forms of close contact. Most often it is through respiratory droplets and blood.
Dr. Martinello explained that the virus does not seem to transmit as easily as the flu or COVID-19.
Throughout the years, there have been many monkeypox cases showing up in the U.S. as well as other parts on the globe. However, it does not often transfer outside of the infected areas in Africa, according to an expert on infectious disease, Dr. Amesh Adalja. Also, Dr. Adalja is one of Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security senior scholars.
Vaccine Protection Against Monkeypox
The monkeypox virus is part of the smallpox family. The vaccine for smallpox is very effective at preventing the illness as well as reducing symptoms. Evidence indicates that the smallpox vaccine has a minimum effectivity of 85% in the prevention of monkeypox.
The vaccine also has the ability to work after someone has been exposed to the illness. This is mainly how the vaccine is used now ever since the World Health Organization proclaimed that smallpox was abolished in 1980.
The illness has a long period of incubation lasting approximately 12 days and the rate of fatality is between one percent and 10%. However, Dr. Adalja thinks that the actual rate of fatality might be lower and depends on where the cases are.
Dr. Adalja explained that the virus is not anywhere near as deadly as smallpox was. Also, the treatment for the virus normally consists of supportive care. A majority of cases are mild. There are antiviral medications that are designed primarily to treat smallpox. But they are normally used in more severe cases.
Past Monkeypox Outbreaks
In 2021, the U.S. reported two cases of monkeypox in individuals who had recent travels from Nigeria. Also, there were outbreaks in the U.S. back in 2003 that consisted of people catching the illness from animals. There were no records of human-to-human transmissions. Out of the 47 cases recorded in Kansas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, and Missouri, only three infected individuals had severe infections.
Some of the outbreaks have gone on for a year if not longer. However, they do not seem to be major outbreaks that grow like COVID-19, according to Dr. Martinello.
He explained that when people learn that there is the illness in their area, and they typically isolate themselves from others and it helps end the spread.
Written by Marrissa Kay
Huff Post: Monkeypox: What You Need To Know About The Virus; by Julia Ries
MSN: Monkeypox outbreaks: Here’s everything you need to know; by Tia Ghose
NBC News: Disease experts offer early ideas about why Europe’s monkeypox outbreak has swelled; by Aria Bendix