Different types of viruses either affect humans or animals. Interestingly, animal viruses can jump to humans after mutating, spawning new diseases. One such virus is the monkeypox virus.

Now before you start panicking, you should know that monkeypox is a rare disease, and it is not as deadly as it may sound. In fact, most people who contract the monkeypox virus recover fully within a few weeks.

However, in some cases, the disease can be more severe, especially in people with a weakened immune system.

So, the question remains, should you be worried about monkeypox?

Let’s take a closer look at the monkeypox virus- what it is, how it affects humans, and what you can do to protect yourself.

According to the CDC, monkeypox is a rare viral disease that is similar to smallpox. It is still endemic in Africa.

The way monkeypox spreads is when humans come into contact with infected animals, such as monkeys, rats, and squirrels.

While monkeypox is not as deadly as smallpox, it can still be dangerous, particularly in young children and people with a weakened immune system.

There is no specific treatment for monkeypox, but hospitalization and supportive care can help manage the symptoms.

This article will discuss what monkeypox is and how you can protect yourself against it.

1. What is monkeypox?

The monkeypox virus is a member of the Orthopoxvirus genus. Monkeypox was first identified in 1958 in laboratory monkeys, hence the name. The interesting thing about monkeypox is that it can infect both humans and animals. And in almost all cases, the humans get infected when they come  into contact with infected animals.

The role of public health practitioners is to increase public awareness about various diseases and their mode of transmission. Aspiring professionals can enroll in a masters in public health online program to learn more about such contagious diseases.

Most monkeypox cases have occurred in Africa, specifically in Congo, Angola, Nigeria, and Sudan.

Outbreaks usually occur in rural areas where there humans and animals—monkeys, rats, and squirrels—live in close proximity.

2. What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

Now comes the scary part. The incubation period for monkeypox is usually between 5-21 days. So, you can be infected with the virus and not know it for up to three weeks.

Symptoms include:

– Backache

– Fever

– Swollen lymph nodes

– Headache

– Muscle aches

– Chills

– Exhaustion

– Rash

The rash usually starts with the face, is itchy, and often accompanied by swollen lymph nodes. In severe cases, monkeypox can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis (brain inflammation), and, worse, death.

More often than not, however, monkeypox is a milder disease, and people recover within a few weeks.

3. How is monkeypox spread?

Now that we know what monkeypox is and its symptoms, let’s now talk about it’s spread.

The virus can also spreads from person to person through respiratory secretions, skin lesions, or contaminations from an infected individual.

The virus also spreads indirectly through contact with an infected animal.

For example, if you touch a monkey cage where the infected monkey is caged, you could become infected with the virus.

4. How can I protect myself from monkeypox?

Avoid contact with infected animals and people to protect yourself from contracting monkeypox. Move out of regions with high incidents of monkeypox. Take precautions against against infected animals, especially monkeys, rodents, or squirrels, coming in direct contact with the objects in your surrounding.

It would help if you also avoided contact with the bedding or clothing of an infected person. If you can’t help it, make sure you wear gloves and mask.

If you think you have been exposed to the monkeypox virus, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately.

5. What is the outlook for monkeypox?

The monkeypox virus is a serious infection that isn’t as deadly as smallpox. The mortality rate for monkeypox is between 1% and 10%.

Most people who contract monkeypox will recover within a few weeks without any long-term effects. However, some people may develop severe pneumonia, encephalitis, or other complications that can lead to death.

6. How is monkeypox treated?

There is no specific treatment for monkeypox, but hospitalization and supportive care can help to manage the symptoms.

Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and preventing secondary infections. Patients should be isolated in order to avoid the spread of the virus to others.

Antibiotics may be prescribed to help prevent secondary bacterial infections. Pain relievers, fever reducers, and cough suppressants may also be recommended.

7. Can monkeypox be prevented?

There is no vaccine for monkeypox, but the smallpox vaccine can provide some protection against the virus. The smallpox vaccine is no longer given routinely in the United States, but it is still available with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Prevention is the best defense against monkeypox. Avoiding contact with infected animals and people is the best way to protect yourself from the virus.

Bottom Line:

Monkeypox is a serious viral infection that can be deadly in some cases. However, most people who contract the virus will recover without showing any long-term effects. Avoid contact with infected animals and patients to protect yourself from monkeypox. If you think you have been exposed to the virus, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately.