What you should know about Monkeypox | Sunday Observer

What you should know about Monkeypox

20 November, 2022

Monkeypox is an illness caused by the monkeypox virus. It is a viral zoonotic infection, meaning that it can spread from animals to humans. It can also spread from humans to other humans and from the environment to humans.

What are the symptoms of Monkeypox?

Monkeypox can cause a range of signs and symptoms. While some people have less severe symptoms, others may develop more serious illness and need care in a health facility. Those typically at higher risk include people who are pregnant, children and persons that are immunocompromised. 

The most common symptoms of monkeypox identified during the 2022 outbreak include fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy and swollen lymph nodes, followed or accompanied by the development of a rash which may last for two to three weeks. The rash can affect the face, palms of the hands, soles of the feet, groin, genital and/or anal regions. It may also be found in the mouth, throat, anus or vagina, or on the eyes. The number of sores can range from one to several thousand. Sores on the skin begin flat, then fill with liquid before they crust over, dry up and fall off, with a fresh layer of skin forming underneath.

There are ongoing studies to keep track of and better understand symptoms during this new outbreak, including what parts of the body can be affected and how long symptoms may last. 

Anyone who has symptoms that could be monkeypox or who has been in contact with someone who has monkeypox should call or visit a health care provider and seek their advice.

Symptoms usually go away on their own or with supportive care, such as medication for pain or fever. People remain infectious until all of the sores have crusted over, the scabs have fallen off and a new layer of skin has formed underneath.

How does monkeypox spread from person to person?

Monkeypox spreads from person-to-person through close contact with someone who has a monkeypox rash.

Close contact can mean being face-to-face (such as talking, breathing or singing close to one another which can generate droplets or short-range aerosols); skin-to-skin (such as touching or vaginal/anal sex); mouth-to-mouth (such as kissing); or mouth-to-skin contact (such as oral sex or kissing the skin). Possible mechanisms of transmission through the air for monkeypox are not yet well understood and studies are underway to learn more.

We are still learning about how long people with monkeypox are infectious for, but generally they are considered infectious until all of their sores have crusted over, the scabs have fallen off and a new layer of skin has formed underneath, and all the sores on the eyes and in the body (in the mouth, throat, eyes, vagina and anus) have healed too. 

Environments can become contaminated with the monkeypox virus: for example, when an infectious person touches clothing, bedding, towels, objects, electronics and surfaces. Someone else who touches these items may become infected if they have any cuts or abrasions or they accidentally touch their eyes, nose mouth or other mucous membranes. This is known as fomite transmission. Cleaning your hands after touching objects that may be contaminated can help prevent this type of transmission.

It is also possible to become infected from breathing in skin flakes or virus from clothing, bedding or towels. In the current outbreak, experts are still trying to understand whether this mode of transmission plays a major role.

The virus can also spread during pregnancy to the fetus, during or after birth through skin-to-skin contact, or from a parent with monkeypox to an infant or child during close contact. 

Although asymptomatic infection has been reported, it is not clear whether people without any symptoms can spread the disease or whether it can spread through other bodily fluids. 

Live monkeypox virus has been isolated from semen, but it is not yet known whether infection can spread through semen, vaginal fluids, amniotic fluids, breastmilk or blood. Research is underway to find out more about whether people can spread monkeypox through the exchange of these fluids during and after symptomatic infection.What do we know about monkeypox and sex?

Monkeypox can spread through close contact of any kind, including through kissing, touching, oral and penetrative vaginal or anal sex with someone who is infectious.  People who have sex with multiple or new partners are most at risk. While the monkeypox virus has been found in semen, it is currently not known whether monkeypox can be spread through semen or vaginal fluids.

If you are having sex, check yourself regularly for symptoms and ask partners to do the same. Anyone with new and unusual rashes or sores should avoid having sex or any other kind of close contact with other people until they have had been checked for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and monkeypox. Remember that the rash can also be found in places that can be hard to see inside the body, including the mouth, throat, genitals, vagina and anus/anal area. -WHO