What you need to know about the monkeypox virus

Some things are more annoying than three years into a pandemic than public health officials talk about unusual outbreaks of again virus, but here we are.

Recently, officials have been tracking a global increase in monkeypox virus cases. On Wednesday, public health officials in Massachusetts announced there was one confirmed case in the state, the first confirmed case of the virus in the United States this year. On Thursday night, health officials in New York City announced they were investigating a possible case of monkeypox, although it remains unconfirmed.

While we’re still learning about smallpox in monkeys – and specifically whether the virus has evolved in a way that challenges our current understanding of it – the basics of the virus have somewhat faded. is well understood. Here’s what we know and don’t know about monkeypox.

What is monkeypox?

As the name suggests, monkeypox is in the same family of viruses as smallpox, although it is generally much less contagious and less severe than smallpox.

William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said: Inverse This virus is commonly found in small mammals in tropical climates.

“Sometimes it gets into primates, which is why monkeypox is named,” he said. “And of course, it can also infect people. It can spread from person to person but not easily, you need to have very close and often quite sustained interpersonal contact, touching, kissing, etc.”

The World Health Organization notes that the longest known chain of monkeypox transmission is “nine generations, meaning the last person infected in this chain is 9 links away from the original patient. It can be transmitted by contact with bodily fluids, lesions on the skin or internal mucosal surfaces, such as in the mouth or throat, respiratory droplets, and contaminated objects. ”

There are two groups or types of monkeypox virus: the West African group and the Central African group.

The first case in a fairly standard 2022 outbreak, the person had traveled to Nigeria, where the virus is commonly found. Others, however, have not followed the same pattern: To date, recently confirmed patients with monkeypox in the US and Europe have had no known contact with people with monkeypox and have not recently traveled to an area where smallpox is common. . So how they got the virus is still unclear.

In an interview with Statistical NewsAndrea McCollum, head of poxvirus epidemiology in the CDC’s division of high-contagious pathogens and pathologies, said we may not have a complete understanding of how the virus is transmitted. shared.

“We don’t have a really good estimate right now for R-naught. [R-naught is the figure that estimates how many people an infected person, on average, will infect.] We don’t actually have any R-naught estimates for the West Africa region. Most of our estimates come from the Congo Basin. And most of those estimates are less than 1. But I’ll remind you that you can have an R-naught of less than one and the agent can still be passed from person to person. “

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

By all accounts, contracting smallpox in monkeys sounds unpleasant. Symptoms usually appear anywhere from 5 to 21 days after exposure.

Early symptoms are very similar to severe flu, Schaffner said.

“When you are sick, the fever is prominent, which can go up to 103. You have symptoms similar to other viral infections, muscle aches, aches, headaches and swollen lymph glands.”

After a day or two of symptoms appear, an “unusual” rash will appear, often on the extremities such as the head, hands, feet, and especially the palms.

“At first, the rash was a flat, red rash, but it quickly swelled up,” says Schaffner. “But it is not a thin blister. It was a rather thick, rubbery, pus-filled blister that was yellow in color.”

Unlike the bite of a similar-sounding virus, chickenpox, monkeypox wounds are more painful than itchy.

Today, the average mortality rate falls between 3 and 6 percent, according to the WHO.

How do you prevent and treat monkeypox?

The smallpox vaccine(s), Schaffner said, provides some protection against smallpox in monkeys, even though the majority of Americans who have been vaccinated against smallpox have long been vaccinated against it. translation has weakened significantly. However, he adds, “people who have been immunized against smallpox may have less severe symptoms if they contract monkeypox than those who have not been vaccinated.”

There is no approved antiviral drug for monkeypox, although the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security notes, “The antiviral drugs cidofovir and brincidofovir can be used to treat smallpox. season for monkeys, although there are insufficient data on their effectiveness for the treatment of smallpox in humans. However, animal studies have demonstrated efficacy against monkeypox in several mammalian species.”

Where were the recent cases of monkeypox found?

What’s unusual about these cases is how many of them have been found outside of Central and West Africa. Cases have now been reported in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Portugal, Sweden and Italy.

That’s certainly related, Schaffner said, but probably not as regarding as some on social media have launched conspiracy theories and general panic.

In some cases, the instinct to panic can be a traumatic response to living through three years of a global pandemic.

“We are all susceptible to infections and pandemics, I realize that,” Schaffner said. “But I think it is important that health officials recognize this immediately. They are investigating and the clinicians are treating the patient. Will there be more cases? Of course. The harder you look when you’re on a flare, the more you’ll find. “

https://www.inverse.com/mind-body/what-you-need-to-know-about-monkeypox What you need to know about the monkeypox virus

Emma James

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