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Monkeypox - Should I Be Worried?

What is Monkeypox? 


According to WHO, monkeypox is an enveloped double-stranded DNA virus that belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus of the Poxciridae family. It is a zoonotic disease that occurs primarily in tropical rainforest areas of central and west Africa and is occasionally exported to other regions. 


The first case of monkeypox in humans was identified in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo in a 9-year-old boy. Since then, human cases of monkeypox have been reported in 11 African countries: Benin, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, Nigeria, the Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, and South Sudan. 


How is it transmitted?


Monkeypox can be transmitted to humans through close contact with an infected person or animal, or with material that has been contaminated with the virus. There are a select few animal species that are more susceptible to monkeypox, such as rope squirrels, tree squirrels, Gambian pouch rats, and dormice. 


What are the symptoms? 


Monkeypox is typically a self-limited disease with symptoms lasting 2-4 weeks, however, severe cases can occur, and the fatality percentage is between 3-6%. 


Initial symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. A rash can develop often beginning on the face and then spreading to other parts of the body including the genitals. The rash changes and goes through different stages and can look like chickenpox or syphilis, before forming a scab which will eventually fall off. 


How does it present itself?


Monkeypox resembles smallpox which is a related orthopoxvirus infection which was eradicated in 1980, according to WHO. However, Monkeypox is less contagious than smallpox and also causes less severe illness. 


Are there vaccines?


Vaccines have been developed and one has been approved in preventing monkeypox.


Is it in the UK? 


NBS News reported that the UK has detected nine cases of monkeypox, most of which were found predominantly in gay and bisexual men. However, it is unlikely that monkeypox is sexually transmitted. 


According to Gov.UK, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has detected 36 additional cases of monkeypox in England. 


While the Monkeypox outbreak is certainly a worry, the virus does not usually spread easily between people as COVID-19 does, and the risk to the UK population remains low. 











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