Health > Monkeypox: The Latest Disease Gripping the World
8th Aug 2022
Is Monkeypo a Cause for Concern

Monkeypox: The Latest Disease Gripping the World

The latest disease to grip the world, monkeypox, is a zoonotic viral disease (a virus transmitted from animals to humans). Earlier its cases occurred in Central and West Africa in the tropical rainforest areas, but now the disease has travelled to non-endemic countries too. The animal hosts of the monkeypox virus (MPV) include several types of rodents and non-human primates. The tree squirrels, the rope squirrels, dormice, Gambian pouch rats, non-human primates, and other animal species are vulnerable to this virus and hence become carriers of the virus.

The first case of this disease in humans was detected in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1970 where this virus infected a 9-month-old boy. Smallpox was eradicated from Congo in 1968. From 1970 onwards, monkeypox cases have been reported from the Congo basin and Central and West Africa.


Transmission of Monkeypox

This disease is a global health concern as, by now, it has spread to affect the rest of the world. This virus can be transferred from animals to humans through direct contact with the lesions of the infected animal, its body fluids, and blood. Human-to-human transmission occurs due to close contact with skin lesions of an infected person, contaminated objects, respiratory droplet particles, and transmission from mother to foetus (congenital monkeypox) or owing to close contact between mother and child.


Monkeypox symptoms

The incubation period is generally from 6 to 13 days, but might be prolonged. During the invasion period, the patient suffers from:

  • High fever
  • Excruciating headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Backache
  • Lack of energy
  • Lymphadenopathy (swelling of lymph nodes).

All the symptoms mentioned above but for lymphadenopathy resemble the symptoms of chickenpox, smallpox, and measles. Swelling of the lymph nodes is a distinctive sign of monkeypox.

The disease rashes appear on the face, palms, and soles. The oral mucus membranes, genitalia, conjunctivae, and cornea are also affected. The lesions slowly rise, fill with liquid, dry up, and fall off. It is a self-limited disease, and the patient recovers in 2 to 4 weeks. Children are more severely affected, and patients with compromised immune systems are a matter of concern, as infections in them results in the worst outcomes.


Monkeypox Treatment 

In the past, the smallpox vaccination proved protective against MPV. Still, after the eradication of smallpox and cessation of immunisation, people have become vulnerable to this virus. In 2022, the European Medicine Agency (EMA) licensed an anti-viral agent Tecovirimat to treat monkeypox. Tecovirimat was developed for smallpox earlier, and it is not widely available yet for the treatment of monkeypox. It has been observed that smallpox vaccinations have been 85 per cent effective in preventing this disease. If infected by monkeypox, people who had received this vaccination in the past will suffer only milder infections.

In 2019 a new vaccine based on an attenuated vaccinia virus was introduced to counter this virus. It is a 2-dose vaccine, but availability is limited.

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This virus has emerged as a significant cause of concern and has travelled to non-endemic regions, covering long distances. The spread of the virus can be contained if countries and people stay informed and behave responsibly. The monkeypox threat should not be taken lightly, and effective measures should be implemented to protect susceptible groups and prevent transmission.



What are the symptoms of the monkeypox virus?

The symptoms of this disease are:

  • High fever
  • Excruciating headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Backache
  • Lack of energy
  • Lymphadenopathy 


How can I stay safe from getting infected with monkeypox?

Since the virus spreads from animals to humans and humans to humans, staying away from rodents and non-human primates is advisable. Also, avoid close contact with people suffering from this disease.


Where was the first monkeypox India case detected?

The first monkeypox case in India was detected in Kerala. The 35-year-old person returned from the UAE and carried the infection with him.


What is the duration of the illness?

The patient recovers in 2 to 4 weeks.


Is the Monkeypox infection fatal?

The infection may be fatal in some immune-depressant cases.