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Monkeypox is a rare viral zoonotic disease (transmitted from animals to humans) that has similar symptoms to that of smallpox. In July 2022 the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared monkeypox a public health emergency 
According to a report by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), three sub-clusters of monkeypox cases were found in India in 2022. Among them, one has been in Kerala, where five males got affected . They had travelled from UAE to India. The rest of the two sub-clusters were found in New Delhi, where three males and two females contracted this disease with no history of international travel.
Although the cases in India are significantly fewer than in other countries around the world, one must stay aware of all the aspects of this disease. Here’s a quick glance at the symptoms, causes, treatments and complications:
|Symptoms||Rash, fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion, muscle aches, headaches, etc.|
|Complications||Permanent scars, bacterial superinfection of the skin, pneumonia, dehydration, sepsis, encephalitis and sometimes even death|
|Causes||Orthopoxvirus genus of the Poxviridae family|
|Onset||5 to 21 days after exposure|
|Diagnosis||Tests for virus DNA|
|Prevention||Get vaccinated, avoid contact with people suffering from monkeypox, wash hands frequently, etc.|
|Medication||No specific medicines are available; doctors use smallpox drugs to treat this disease|
To learn more about this infectious disease and know when to see a doctor, keep reading!
Individuals who have contracted monkeypox will experience the following symptoms:
Depending on the infection’s severity, one may experience a few of these symptoms or every one of them. These signs start showing after approximately 3 weeks after exposure, and if an individual begins experiencing flu-like symptoms, the rashes generally appear 1 to 4 days after.
According to medical experts, in some cases, people experience flu-like symptoms before the onset of the rash. While in other cases, individuals may get the rash first before other symptoms are visible. Moreover, there are also instances where people have seen no monkeypox symptoms except the rash .
The monkeypox virus belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus of the Poxviridae family. It spreads among humans in the following ways:
An individual suffering from monkeypox can spread it to others from the onset of symptoms right until the rashes are fully healed and a new layer of skin appears in its place. This disease can spread through sexual contact with infected people and also via non-sexual contact with infectious lesions.
Moreover, this disease can also spread from contaminated instruments used in clinical settings. Pregnant women, upon infection, have a high chance of spreading this disease to their foetus, and in case of new mothers, this virus can spread to their children from close contact during or after birth.  
Researchers have found that the Clade I or Congo Basin variant of the monkeypox virus is more communicable and can take on a severe form. This variant has a fatality rate of approximately 10%.
In the current outbreak, the Clade IIb variant is responsible for a majority of the cases. However, people who are suffering from this variant have low chances of mortality. According to the reports, more than 90% of individuals suffering from this disease will recover successfully.
Although, pregnant or breastfeeding women, people with compromised immune systems, individuals with a history of eczema and children aged below 1 can suffer from complications and even death.
The Clade II variant is endemic in numerous West African countries. It is less severe than the Congo basin variant, and in the current outbreak, the people suffering from this variant have only experienced mild illness.
You should visit your doctor for a monkeypox test in case of the following:
Medical experts suggest that if you have been in contact with a person suffering from monkeypox in the last 21 days, you should get yourself tested. By doing so, you not only reduce the chances of this disease spreading, but you start getting treatment at the right time before it leads to complications .
Moreover, the lesions of monkeypox can be very painful, and there are always high chances of secondary infections. Hence, you should refer to professional medical help as soon as possible.
There are mainly two types of tests available for monkeypox:
In this test, healthcare providers will take a sample of genetic material from the dry crust of scabbed lesions or pustules on your body. They may also use lesion biopsies for this purpose. Blood samples are not taken in this regard as, after infecting a person’s body, the virus stays in the blood for a brief period of time.
Then, the sample gets amplified with pathogen-specific primers. This helps to find out if the monkeypox virus is present in your body and also whether you were actively infected during the testing process.
The sensitivity and accuracy of the PCR technique make it the preferred way for detecting Monkeypox.
The rapid antigen and serology test uses antigens to detect monkeypox. However, it can lead to various false reports due to many factors. Monkeypox has many similarities with viruses in the Orthopoxvirus genus. Thus, it is difficult for this test to identify what type of virus you are infected with.
Moreover, the human body produces similar antibodies to defend against this class of pathogens, making the test more ineffective. Also, this test can detect the antibodies produced via the monkeypox vaccine, resulting in false positive reports .
The prognosis for monkeypox patients is as follows:
As of now, there is no specific monkeypox medication. However, given this disease’s similarity with smallpox, healthcare providers prescribe medicines used for this disease. Moreover, clinical trials are ongoing to take note of their effectiveness in treating monkeypox .
Here are a few steps that you can take for monkeypox prevention:
The complications that can arrive for delaying monkeypox treatment are as follows :
Usually, in case of monkeypox, severity and complications arise for young children and individuals with a compromised immune system (people with HIV). According to reports, almost 100% of monkeypox fatalities were children aged below 10. Although, in the time period 2000 to 2019, this percentage fell to 37.5% .
Moreover, severe monkeypox complications were generally found more in individuals who were not vaccinated rather than in people who opted for the vaccine.
As stated above, currently, there is no approved treatment available for monkeypox infections. Over-the-counter pain relievers and fever reducers are used to control the symptoms during the treatment process. Hence, the cost of monkeypox treatment can vary based on the cost of the medicine that you have been prescribed and the complications that may arise during the treatment.
Monkeypox is a disease with mild symptoms that affect the skin. The lesions can become very painful and leave scars for life. It is highly transmissible, and the virus can spread even if someone touches an affected individual’s clothes or bedding.
Thus, to hinder its spread and prevent the rise of complications, taking medical assistance is crucial. Given the rising costs of treatment in private hospitals, the medical bills for treating you or your near and dear ones can break the bank. Thanks to Navi Health Insurance, you can avail of cashless treatment facilities in 10,000 +network hospitals across India, unlimited free online doctor consultations, annual check-ups and more with premiums starting at ₹234. Get a quote now!
No, if you have had previous exposure to chickenpox, it will not come in handy against monkeypox. This is so because chickenpox is caused by the Varicella virus, while monkeypox is caused by a virus of the Orthopoxvirus genus.
If an infected individual touches something, there is a high chance of disease transmission when other people come in contact with it. Hence, doctors always advise washing your hands in case one touches public surfaces.
Individuals who have monkeypox need to eat properly, consume ample amounts of liquids and get enough rest. Moreover, when in isolation, they can take care of their mental health by engaging themselves in their hobbies. They can also use technology to stay in touch with their loved ones.
HIV weakens the immune system, and people suffering from it have a higher chance of suffering monkeypox complications. However, there have been a few individuals suffering from HIV who contracted this disease. They recovered from it successfully, and experts believe that it is due to the reason that their HIV infection is well controlled
Continuing to breastfeed after being affected by monkeypox and abruptly stopping the feeding process both have their own risks. Thus, in this case, people need to consult a doctor to measure the odds. The doctor may suggest covering up the sores and using a face mask while breastfeeding .
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