Written by: Bobby Brown
As the world is slowly starting to see some light at the end of the Covid tunnel, Monkeypox has emerged as a new concern for health authorities. There have been confirmed cases in a dozen countries, including Australia, the US, Canada, France, Germany and Italy with the largest numbers being recorded in Portugal, Spain, and the UK. In fact, some experts are convinced that the outbreak was triggered by risky sexual behaviour at two mass rave parties in Belgium and Spain recently.
Monkeypox not yet in SA
There haven’t been any cases reported South Africa, but given how quickly diseases spread across the world these days, and the fact that our skies are open again, it’s best we stay vigilant and keep as informed as possible. Firstly, this is not a new disease – it’s closely related to smallpox and has been around for decades, mostly focused on west and central Africa. It is zoonotic, which means humans can get it from animal bites and scratches, or preparing bush meat.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says human-to-human infection is possible, but rare – passed on through very close contact with lesions and bodily fluids, like airborne droplets from nearby coughing or sneezing. Changing contaminated clothing or bedsheets is also a source of infection. WHO experts held this briefing on the matter recently:
Monkeypox Is Not New
There have been cases reported in Europe in previous years, but the current outbreak is worrisome, because some of it is not linked to travel abroad. So just like Covid, we need to know as much as possible, to stay protected, as there is currently no proven treatment for Monkeypox, although the smallpox ring-vaccination strategy has been shown to work in the DRC. That’s when contacts of contacts are vaccinated to isolate and stop the spread, though it requires meticulous track-and-trace programs. The incubation period ranges from five to 21 days, which is the danger zone for unknowingly passing the infection on to others, as there may be mild to no symptoms.
Monkeypox Symptoms To Watch Out For
Once infected, the illness resolves itself within two to four weeks for the majority of people. Symptoms are similar to smallpox, but milder, for the most part. It includes headache, fever, body aches, chills, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion and of course the much publicised skin rash. The red rash generally covers the entire body and results in painful, pus-filled boils that burst, crusts over and remain infectious for weeks afterwards.
It can get extremely severe and even fatal for older people, those with underlying immune deficiencies and young children. However, it is worth noting that the fatality rate is somewhere between one and 10%.