Explained: What is monkeypox, a smallpox-like disease from Africa that has been reported in the UK?

What is the News?

Health authorities in the United Kingdom have confirmed a case of monkeypox, a rare viral infection similar to smallpox in an individual who recently travelled to the UK from Nigeria.

What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease (a disease that is transmitted from infected animals to humans) that occurs primarily in tropical rainforest areas of Central and West Africa and is occasionally exported to other regions.

Monkeypox belongs to the orthopoxvirus, which is a genus of viruses that also includes the variola virus which causes smallpox.

First Discovered in: 1958 following two outbreaks of a pox-like disease in colonies of monkeys kept for research — which led to the name ‘monkeypox’.

Source of Transmission: Human-to-human transmission is very limited. However, transmission, when it occurs, can be through contact with bodily fluids, lesions on the skin or on internal mucosal surfaces, such as in the mouth or throat, respiratory droplets and contaminated objects.

The first human case was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) during a period of intensified effort to eliminate smallpox.

Symptoms: It begins with a fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, and exhaustion. It also causes the lymph nodes to swell (lymphadenopathy), which smallpox does not.

Incubation Period: The incubation period (time from infection to symptoms) for monkeypox is usually 7-14 days but can range from 5-21 days.

Treatment: There is no safe, proven treatment for monkeypox yet. The WHO recommends supportive treatment depending on the symptoms. Awareness is important for the prevention and control of the infection.

Mortality Rate: According to the WHO, the proportion of patients who die has varied between 0 and 11% in documented cases, and has been higher among young children.

Source:  The post is based on the article “Explained: What is monkeypox, a smallpox-like disease from Africa that has been reported in the UK?” published in Indian Express on 9th May 2022

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