The world is a big and scary place. So many diseases, so little time to learn about them all. You might not have heard of monkeypox before, but that’s about to change. In an outbreak of the disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo that started in October 2017 and continued through to January 2018, more than 200 people were infected and 84 of those cases ended in death. There are fears that this outbreak could be just the beginning for this little-known and under-reported disease. Since May 2022, there has been a global increase in monkeypox cases reported from multiple countries where monkeypox is not usually seen.Given its potential for pandemic spread, it’s important to know all you can about monkeypox and how you can protect yourself from contracting it if you are at risk. Keep reading for everything you need to know about monkeypox so you can protect yourself against it if necessary; you never know when knowledge like this could come in handy!
Monkeypox is a rare, non-human primate poxvirus that is endemic in rodents and tropical areas. It shares many similarities with human smallpox; however, there are important differences between the two viruses that are key to understanding why monkeypox is so much less dangerous than smallpox. Due to the extremely large death toll associated with smallpox, it was declared eradicated in 1980. Before this, smallpox was a devastating disease that took millions of lives every year. Although it is now extinct, smallpox still exists in two secure laboratories in the U.S. and Russia. Monkeypox is one of two other diseases that result from the same genus as smallpox. The other is called cowpox. However, these diseases are much less dangerous than smallpox; they are generally treated as “mild” diseases.
Monkeypox is transmitted to humans through direct contact with infected animals, such as rodents, nonhuman primates, and insectivores like mongrels and bats, who are themselves immune to the disease. Humans can also contract the disease from contaminated clothes or bedding that has been used by infected animals. Similarly to how we contracted smallpox in the past, it is possible for humans to contract monkeypox from handling or being bitten by an infected animal. If the infection is caught early enough, treatment is simple and no long-lasting effects are expected. If left untreated, however, it can have serious consequences.
Monkeypox typically presents itself with a high fever, rash, and body aches. Other common symptoms include swollen lymph nodes, headaches, abdominal pain, and vomiting. The rash associated with monkeypox is usually red and itchy, and it may blister and ooze. If you contract monkeypox, you will likely experience a high fever and other flu-like symptoms that will last anywhere from two to four days. The rash may take as long as two weeks to fully develop.
Although there is no specific cure for monkeypox, appropriate treatment will generally result in a full recovery. Treatment for monkeypox includes bed rest, supportive medications, and hydration to help reduce fever and ease symptoms. If the rash associated with monkeypox becomes infected, however, antibiotics may be prescribed.
If the infection is treated promptly, there should not be any long-term effects from contracting monkeypox. If left untreated, however, it can have serious long-term effects. In rare cases, monkeypox can result in death when left untreated, or lead to other long-term health issues. An extreme case of long-term effects from monkeypox occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2017. In this particular outbreak of the disease, over 80 people died, and more than 200 others were infected.
There is no specific vaccine for monkeypox. However, if you are at high risk of contracting the disease (for example, if you live in an area where it has been reported) you can protect yourself against it through safe practices. It’s important to note that while there is no vaccine for monkeypox, there are vaccines that protect you against smallpox. These vaccines were created based on the smallpox vaccine, so they are effective against both diseases.
Monkeypox is a rare, non-human primate poxvirus that is endemic in rodents and tropical areas. It shares many similarities with human smallpox; however, there are important differences that are key to understanding why monkeypox is so much less dangerous than smallpox. Monkeypox is transmitted to humans through direct contact with infected animals, such as rodents, nonhuman primates, and insectivores. It typically presents itself with a high fever, rash, and body aches, and is typically treated with bed rest, supportive medications, and hydration. If left untreated, monkeypox can have serious long-term effects, including death when left untreated, or lead to other long-term health issues. There is no specific vaccine for monkeypox, but there are vaccines that protect you against smallpox.