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Facts about monkeypox virus

<p><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><strong><img src="/nairobi/PublishingImages/monkeypox%20body.jpg" alt="" style="margin: 5px;"/></strong></span> </p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><strong>What is monkeypox virus?</strong>
</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Monkeypox is a virus transmitted to humans from animals with symptoms similar to those seen in the past in smallpox patients, although it is clinically less severe. The virus is so far common in central and west African countries but in recent weeks, cases have also been reported in European countries including UK, USA, Canada Spain, Portugal, Sweden and Italy.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><strong>Which animals mostly host the monkeypox virus?</strong></span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Various animal species have been identified as susceptible to the monkeypox virus. In Africa, evidence of monkeypox virus infection has been found in many animals including rope squirrels, tree squirrels, Gambian poached rats, dormice and different species of monkeys.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><strong>How does it spread?</strong>
</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Initial transmission is mainly animal-to-human which occurs primarily from direct contact with broken skin or mucous membranes. It may possibly be transmitted through the respiratory tract or blood and body fluids. Eating inadequately cooked meat and other animal products of infected animals is a possible risk factor. People living in or near forested areas may have indirect or low-level exposure to infected animals.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><strong>What symptoms should I be on the lookout for?</strong></span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">From infection to onset of symptoms of monkeypox, symptoms will likely present from 6 to 13 days but can range from 5 to 21 days. Within the first 5 days, you might experience, fever, intense headache, swelling of the lymph nodes, back pain, muscle aches and intense lack of energy. Once these symptoms manifest the next phase is skin rashes which begin 1 -3 days after presentation of fever. The rashes tend to be more concentrated on the face, palms of the hands, soles of the feet, genitals and the eye cornea.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><strong>How long do the symptoms last?</strong></span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Monkeypox symptoms last from 2 to 4 weeks. Severe cases occur more commonly among children and are related to the extent of virus exposure, patient health status and nature of complications. Underlying immune deficiencies may lead to worse outcomes. Complications of monkeypox can include secondary infections, pneumonia, sepsis, encephalitis (inflammation of brain), and infection of the cornea leading to loss of vision. The extent to which asymptomatic infection may occur still remains unknown.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><strong>Does vaccination help prevent contracting the virus?</strong></span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Vaccination against smallpox proved to be 85 per cent protective in the past against monkeypox. However, due to discontinuation of this vaccine in the 1970s after smallpox was eradicated, children and persons younger than 40 and 50 years of age today may be more at risk of contracting the disease.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><strong>How is it diagnosed?</strong></span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Just like Covid-19, monkeypox is diagnosed through a Polymerase chain reaction (PCR). This is the preferred laboratory test given its accuracy and sensitivity. However, the clinical evaluation must also consider other infectious diseases that present with rashes such as chickenpox, measles, bacterial skin infections, scabies, syphilis, and medication-associated allergies.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><strong>What are the treatment options available for monkeypox?</strong></span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Clinical care for monkeypox should be fully optimized to alleviate symptoms and manage complications. Patients should be offered fluids and food to maintain adequate nutritional status. Secondary bacterial infections should be treated as indicated. Vaccination against smallpox is also effective in preventing monkeypox.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><strong>How can I protect myself against contacting monkeypox virus?</strong></span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Awareness creation to sensitize the public on monkeypox and its transmission is important. In the past, most human infections resulted from animal-to-human transmission. This current outbreak is unusual as the patients do not have a history of contact with animals or travel to endemic regions. Human-to-human transmission occurs by face-to-face exposure, direct physical contact and contact with contaminated materials such as clothing or beddings.</span></p>

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