The recent outbreak of Monkeypox, a rare illness in Bayelsa , Nigeria is a source of concern for many, bringing back memories of Ebola and other viral illnesses of animal origin. At least 12 suspected cases have been confirmed and 49 persons are in isolation. This is one of the recent outbreaks of Monkeypox in Africa.
What do you know about Monkeypox? How does it spread? Are you at risk? What can you do to prevent its spread? Consider 8 important facts about this viral disease.
1.The first outbreak of Human monkeypox was reported in 1970 in a 9 year old boy in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then known as Zaire). Overtime, at least 5 significant outbreaks have been reported in Africa and one in the United States. Prior to the most recent outbreak which as so far affected 12 individuals in Bayelsa, there was one in Central African Republic between August and October which affected 26 persons and claimed 2 lives.
2. Although named after monkeys ,it may also be from squirrels , Gambian rats and rodents. Direct contact with the blood, bodily fluids, skin or mucosal lesions of any of these infected animals may lead to human infection. Persons who handle such animals in the lab or while preparing food are at risk of Monkeypox, Ebola and other animal borne diseases.
3.Do you know that the reported cases of individuals having Monkeypox appear to be on the rise? Some experts have attributed it to the cessation of smallpox vaccines. According to Dr Rimoin, “Monkeypox has probably occurred for millennia in central Africa, but it’s only since the eradication of smallpox that it’s been a disease that actually happens in humans. The consequence of ceasing smallpox vaccination is the world’s population is now sensitive to poxviruses.”
4.Monkeypox is so similar to smallpox which was eradicated in 1980, following a global immunization campaign driven by the World Health Organization. The symptoms of Monkeypox are like a milder form of small pox. All the symptoms are similar except lymph node enlargement which typically occurs in Monkeypox. The two conditions are so closely related that smallpox protects an individual against Monkeypox too.
5.The common features of Monkeypox such as fever, headache, muscle aches and skin rash mimic other common febrile conditions such as chicken pox, measles and scabies. Generally the skin rask is widespread and larger than chickenpox. This is why you not hesitate to seek medical help if you notice any of these features.
6. Even without treatment, Monkeypox infection resolves within 2 to 4 weeks. However, the risk of death occurs in severe cases. This is because the illness makes an individual vulnerable to other infections and also affect the functioning of important organs in the body.
7.Reducing the risk of human-to-human transmission is possible. Close physical contact with people infected with monkeypox should be avoided. Household members of those with features of monkeypox should endeavour to take special precautions. Gloves and protective equipment should be worn when taking care of ill people. Regular hand washing should be carried out after caring for or visiting sick people.
8.To prevent direct infection from animals, stay away from rats, squirrels and monkeys, if possible. Thoroughly cook all animal products before eating. In addition, gloves and other appropriate protective clothing should be worn while handling sick animals or their infected tissues, and during slaughtering procedures.