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What is Monkeypox & How Long Does it Last? | Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention of Monkeypox

What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare illness that occurs primarily in the rain forest of Central and West Africa. It was first seen in laboratory monkeys in 1958, hence named so. But monkeys are not thought to be the natural source of the virus. It can be among the various species including humans, prairie dogs, mice, and squirrels that can be infected with the virus.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.(1)

What is Monkeypox?

Causes of Monkeypox

Monkeypox is caused by the monkeypox virus. It belongs to the orthopoxvirus group of viruses. Other members of this group of virus that can cause other infections include variola, vaccinia, and cowpox virus.

Monkeypox can spread to humans from an infected animal through a bite or direct contact with animal fluid or any lesion.

The virus can also spread from human to human but is less infectious than smallpox. In the human, it is transmitted by respiratory droplets, through direct or face to face contact. It can also spread through direct contact with the infected person or by coming in contact with a contaminated object such as bedding or clothing.

The Monkeypox infection is seen occurring higher in young adults. People younger than 40-50 years of age are more susceptible to monkeypox.

Signs and Symptoms of Monkeypox

The symptoms of monkeypox are similar to and milder than symptoms of smallpox. There is one difference, that monkeypox can lead to swelling in the lymph nodes while this does not happen in smallpox.

The symptoms begin with fever, muscle ache, headache, and exhaustion. The incubation period of Monkeypox can range from 5-21 days to 7-14 days.

The symptoms of Monkeypox include:

1-3 days after the development of fever, some rashes begin on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body. The rashes are more concentrated on the face and extremities rather than the trunk.

The lesions of monkeypox progress in the following way.

  • Macules (lesion with a flat base)
  • Papules (slightly raised lesion)
  • Vesicles (lesions filled with clear fluid)
  • Pustules (lesions with yellow fluid)
  • Scabs (dried up crusts that fall off)

How Long Does Monkeypox Illness Last?

The illness in monkeypox lasts for 2-4 weeks.

The fatality rate of monkeypox is as high as 10%(2)

How Is Monkeypox Illness Treated?

There is no treatment available for monkeypox.

For controlling the outbreak smallpox vaccine, antivirals, and vaccinia immune globin (VIG) can be used.

How To Prevent Monkeypox?

Numerous measures can be taken to prevent getting infected with monkeypox virus:

  • Avoid coming in contact with animals that have chances to harbor infection.
  • Avoid coming in contact with bedding that has been used by a sick animal.
  • The infected patients should be isolated
  • Good hand hygiene should be practiced after handling infected animals or humans. Wash hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizers.
  • Protective equipment should be used while handling the patients.
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 4, 2020

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