While currently The monkeypox outbreak will be the first time many people have heard of the disease, which is thought to have infected humans for centuries, possibly even millennia. A member of the same virus family as chickenpox and smallpox, The first recorded cases of monkeypox were in 1958when there were two outbreaks in groups of laboratory monkeys kept for study – hence the name.
However, this is a bit confusing. Viruses are usually carried by rodents such as squirrels, kangaroos, and parasites, among others. Cases tend to occur near the tropical rainforests of Central and West Africa, where the virus is endemic. From 1980s to 2010, cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) increase more than 14 timesand only in 2020 there are nearly 4,600 suspected cases monkeypox in the DRC. Also had more than 550 suspected cases in Nigeria since 2017. Given these numbers and how connected the world is by air travel, the current global outbreak is not really surprising.
But while cases are on the rise, the risk of smallpox in monkeys for the general population is low. If you think you have the virus — or have been in contact with someone who has it — stay calm. You probably won’t need treatment, but you should do what you can to avoid spreading the virus further.
How do I know if I have monkeypox?
Smallpox in monkeys occurs in two different stages. Initially, people develop flu-like symptoms such as exhaustion, fever, body aches, chills, and headaches as the virus enters their cells, followed by enlarged lymph nodes as the system progresses. Their immune system strengthens to fight infections.
The second stage is the development of “chicken pox”—a nasty rash that usually begins on the face before spreading to the arms, legs, hands, feet, and trunk. Some patients in the latest outbreak have reported a rash around the genital area.
Doctors caution that you shouldn’t assume you have monkeypox just because you have a rash. This can also happen with diseases like chickenpox and scabies, while a genital rash can also be a sign of sexually transmitted infections like herpes. The monkeypox rash is fairly obvious – the skin rashes start out flat and red, before starting to blister and fill with white pus. They then dry into scabs, which eventually heal and fall off. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s usually not severe and clears up on its own within two to four weeks.
How does someone catch it?
Monkeypox usually affects people who come into contact with infected animals — often rodents that can harbor the virus. People get the virus through a bite or scratch or, in some cases, by eating undercooked meat.
Despite the recent increase in cases, it is not uncommon for someone to catch the virus and transmit it. Prolonged close contact is required give it to someone else give it to someone else. Specifically, there are three known ways that monkeypox can be transmitted — direct contact with pus from a sore, contact with the clothing of an infected person (or perhaps sharing towels), or inhalation of droplets. Respiratory. In the current outbreak, it appears that sex has provided a route of transmission — most likely through skin-to-skin contact.
The infection rate is much lower than Covid-19 or many common respiratory viruses, so outbreaks tend to end fairly quickly. An example of this was in 2003, when monkeypox arrived in the US after infected animals were shipped from Ghana to Illinois. The virus has spread to prairie dogs sold as pets in many Midwestern states, and 47 people have been infected. But no one passed it on to anyone else, and the outbreak ended shortly after it started.