Monkeypox Virus: How Dangerous Is It And Why It's A Health Emergency | Explained

Monkeypox Virus: Anyone can spread the virus, but the current outbreak outside of Africa is concentrated almost exclusively among men who have s*x with men.

By Talibuddin Khan
Fri, 05 Aug 2022 03:18 PM IST
Minute Read
Monkeypox Virus: How Dangerous Is It And Why It's A Health Emergency | Explained
Health workers inspect passengers arriving from high-risk countries for MonkeyPox symptoms, at Chennai International Airport. (ANI Photo)

Two out of the 12 samples collected by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi tested positive for monkeypox on Friday. Following the confirmation, these patients were admitted to Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital (LNJP) hospital. With this, the total Monkeypox cases in India climbed to 11 while 1 person has lost his life due to the disease.

Meanwhile, the United States declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency, a move that may increase health agency access to funds and allow the government new avenues for increasing the production and use of existing vaccines. The move follows the declaration by the World Health Organization in July.

How Dangerous Is It?

First identified in monkeys, the virus is transmitted chiefly through close contact with an infected person. It typically causes mild symptoms including fever, rash, swollen lymph nodes and pus-filled skin lesions. Severe cases can occur though people tend to recover within two to four weeks, according to the WHO. Anyone can spread the virus, but the current outbreak outside of Africa is concentrated almost exclusively among men who have s*x with men.

Monkeypox spreads primarily via intimate skin-to-skin contact, usually with someone who has an active rash, as well as via contact with contaminated clothes or bedding. It is not as easily transmitted as the SARS-CoV-2 virus that spurred the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why Is It An Emergency?

The United States hopes the public health emergency declaration will help it contain the disease before it becomes endemic. This status unleashes funding and gives health agencies regulatory flexibility that could help increase access to vaccines and treatments.

Health officials from several countries had urged the WHO to label monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern due to the quick escalation of cases and concerns it may become endemic in more countries. The emergency declaration aims to spur global action and collaboration on everything from testing to the production and distribution of vaccines and treatments.

Protective Measures:

Health officials say that people should avoid close personal contact with someone who has an illness presenting with a distinctive rash or who is otherwise unwell. People who suspect they have monkeypox should isolate themselves and seek medical care. Health officials have also been offering monkeypox vaccines to high-risk individuals and those that have recently been in close contact with an infected person.

Treatment:

Monkeypox symptoms often resolve on their own within weeks. Patients may receive extra fluids and additional treatment for secondary bacterial infections. An antiviral agent called tecovirimat - branded as TPOXX and made by SIGA Technologies - has U.S. and EU approval for smallpox, while its European approval also includes monkeypox and cowpox.

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