Video | WHO Declares Monkeypox Outbreak a Global Health Emergency: What Is It?

Monkeypox: On 22 July, a third case of monkeypox in India was confirmed by Kerala Health Minister, Veena George.

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(This article was first published on 14 July and is being republished in light of the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring the global monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.)

On Friday, 22 July, a third case of monkeypox in India was confirmed by Kerala Health Minister, Veena George.

India reported its first case of monkeypox – a rare, but deadly, viral infection — on Thursday, 14 July in Kerala, and since then health authorities have been on the alert.

The first patient, a 35 year old man from Kerala, had recently returned from UAE. He is said to have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for monkeypox while he was in UAE.

According to reports, the man is now admitted at Thiruvananthapuram Medical College.

"There is nothing to worry about or to be anxious about. All the steps are being taken and the patient is stable," the state health minister Veena George was quoted as saying to the press.

A small cluster of monkeypox cases were detected in the UK in 2021, however, a recent surge in cases in countries across the world has put health authorities including the World Health Organization on alert.

How does monkeypox spread? What are the symptoms to look out for?

FIT answers tour FAQs.

What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a viral infection caused by the monkeypox virus.

According to the WHO, Monkeypox is a rare disease, that mostly occurs in tropical rainforest areas of Central and West Africa.

Though the disease is rare in humans, it can be fatal. According to the WHO, as many as one-tenth of monkeypox patients may die. The risk of fatality is also higher in younger people.

According to the UK HSA, the version detected in the UK currently is milder, and does not spread very easily.

Which countries have detected monkeypox so far?

So far 36 cases of monkeypox have been recorded collectively in the UK, Portugal, Spain and the US.

India has so far reported 1 confirmed case.

How does it spread?

Monkeypox virus is mostly transmitted to people from wild animals such as rodents and primates, but it is possible for the virus to spread from person to person.

In humans, monkeypox spread through contact with an infected person's lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials such as bedding.

Health authorities are still not sure where the current outbreak of the disease originated from, or how these clusters of people in different countries contracted it.

Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Adviser of the U.K. Health Security Agency (UK HSA) called the outbreak 'rare' and 'Unusual' in a recent statement.

"Exactly where and how they acquired their infections remains under urgent investigation."
UKHSA in a statement

Is it a sexually transmitted disease?

Monkeypox was not previously classified as a sexually transmitted disease, however, the UK HSA in their statement say that they have seen a pattern of patients with no travel history to places where monkeypox is prevalent.

"What is even more bizarre is finding cases that appear to have acquired the infection via sexual contact," said Mateo Prochazka, an infectious diseases Epidemiologist with the UK HSA, on Twitter.

"We are particularly urging men who are gay, and bisexual to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service without delay if they have concerns. Please contact clinics ahead of your visit."
Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Adviser, UKHSA

What are the symptoms to look out for?

Symptoms of monkeypox are similar to that of smallpox, although it is less dangerous than the latter. These typically include,

  • Fever

  • Chills

  • Headache

  • Bodyache

  • Rashes

  • Swollen lymph nodes

  • Painful blisters on the hands, feet and face (like chickenpox)

Symptoms of monkeypox can last anywhere from two weeks to a month.

How is monkeypox treated?

There is no specific treatment for monkeypox. Most people tend to recover in a few weeks with symptomatic management.

Is there a vaccine for monkeypox?

Smallpox vaccines were found to be effective against monkeypox. However, when smallppox was eradicated in 1980, the vaccines were discontinued soon after as well.

According to the WHO, a new updated vaccine has now been approved for the prevention of both smallpox and monkeypox.

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Topics:  Monkeypox   Monkeypox Virus 

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