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Monkeypox: What We Should Know

Monkeypox: What We Should Know

With the coronavirus pandemic still a global concern, countries are raising warnings for a disease wreaking havoc on some countries right now. Monkeypox is usually found in Central and West African countries, but recently, the UK, US, Canada, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, and Italy have reported cases. Due to this sudden rise in cases in unlikely places, experts are closely watching the disease and raising concerns that there may have been undetected transmission. Here’s what we know so far about monkeypox:


What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by viral infection with the monkeypox virus. The name comes from the colonies of monkeys kept for research from which the virus was discovered in 1958. In 1970, the Democratic Republic of Congo recorded the first human case of monkeypox during an effort to eliminate smallpox in the country.

The majority of infections have been recorded in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but other cases have also been found in several other central and western African countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, and Sierra Leone.

Still, the disease is rare so much so that health professionals in many countries may never get to encounter this in their careers. It is only this year that the disease has been detected in many other countries outside those mentioned above.


What are its symptoms?

Monkeypox can cause many symptoms, most of which are similar to those of smallpox but milder in nature. However, its most distinct symptom is the appearance of rashes or lesions on parts of the body, particularly the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet. It can also appear on the face or arms.

Other symptoms of monkeypox are also flu-like in nature. They include:

  • fever
  • chills
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • backache
  • exhaustion
  • swollen lymph nodes.



How does it spread?

The monkeypox virus primarily spreads through respiratory droplets. It may be contracted from an animal, human, or any material contaminated with the virus. Transmission is generally low.

Human-to-human transmission may occur through:

  • close contact
  • directly touching sores, rashes, or bodily fluids
  • indirectly touching sores or rashes through contact with personal belongings contaminated with the virus

Animal-to-human transmission may occur through:

  • close contact
  • biting or scratching
  • preparing or consuming infected meat
  • directly touching sores, rashes, or bodily fluids
  • indirectly touching sores or rashes (e.g. through contaminated bedding)


How long is its incubation period?

From time of infection to time of symptom appearance, it usually takes 7 to 14 days, but can also range from 5 to 21 days. When someone contracts monkeypox, the disease may usually last 2 to 4 weeks.


What is the treatment for monkeypox?

As of the moment, there is no known treatment or cure for monkeypox. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises the use of smallpox vaccine, antivirals, and vaccinia immune globulin (VIG) to control a monkeypox outbreak.


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What can you do to protect yourself?

While there is no known cure yet, you can start protecting yourself by taking preventive measures from infection.

  • Avoid consuming/eating meat from animals that may carry the virus.
  • Avoid contact with animals that may carry the virus.
  • Sanitize frequently, especially after coming into contact with infected animals or humans.
  • Once determined to be infected, isolate patients to avoid spreading the virus.
  • If you’re a healthcare worker or you need to care for a patient infected with the virus, use personal protective equipment


Is there a case in the Philippines?

No, as of writing, there has been no detected case of monkeypox in the country. “To date, monkeypox has not been detected within the Philippines or at its borders,” the Department of Health (DOH) said in an advisory published last May 20.


How is the Philippine government preparing against monkeypox?

According to the DOH, the government is “intensifying” border screening after the reports of rising cases in various countries. DOH also said they are closely monitoring global developments about monkeypox while also urging citizens to continue practicing standard health protocols, including mask-wearing, hand-washing, and social distancing.


This is still a developing story.

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