Monkeypox Guide – What Is Monkeypox, Symptoms, And More
Monkeypox has been gaining a lot of media attention recently, owing to its re-emergence in May 2022. It is a zoonotic infection that occurs mainly in African countries, but can also transmit to travellers. In this guide, we’ll cover the essentials of Monkeypox such as causes, symptoms, treatment options, prevention and more.
BROWSE OUR GUIDE
The contents of this article is meant as general health information and should not be treated as professional medical advice. If you need professional medical help, please consult your healthcare practitioner.
What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a viral infection transmitted from animals to human-caused by the monkeypox virus that belongs to the orthopoxvirus genus from the Poxviridae family. The Orthopoxvirus genus also includes the variola virus which caused smallpox, the vaccinia virus that used in the smallpox vaccine and the cowpox virus.
Monkeypox vs Chickenpox - What’s the difference?
Monkeypox and chickenpox are often confused because their most significant symptom is rashes. Both of the viruses also cause symptoms such as cold, body ache, fever, muscle ache and fatigue. They can be differentiated by observing different aspects. Firstly, monkeypox is caused by the orthopoxvirus whereas chickenpox is caused by Varicella-zoster virus which is highly contagious.
Besides that, monkeypox patients will develop rashes within 1 to 5 days and it starts from the face and spreads to other parts of the body later. As for chickenpox, rashes can be observed on the chest, back and then on the face and the entire body. Anywhere between 250 to 500 itchy blisters may show up.
Thirdly, monkeypox rashes usually appear 1 to 5 days after the symptoms of fever while monkeypox rashes appear 1 to 2 days after the fever. The lymph node of monkeypox patients is swollen whereas the chickenpox patient’s lymph node is not swollen. Lastly, The incubation period of monkeypox is from 5 to 21 days while chickenpox is 4 to 7 days.
How is Monkeypox transmitted?
Monkeypox virus is transmitted from one person to another via close contact from lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials such as bedding.
Is Monkeypox contagious?
Monkeypox is not contagious during the incubation period and the infection will only spread after the incubation period. The average incubation period for monkeypox is 7 to 14 days and ranges from 5 to 21 days.
Who is at risk of getting Monkeypox?
Individual groups that have a high risk of monkeypox are those who have close contact with monkeypox patients, regardless of age or gender. If you’ve previously travelled to African countries during the outbreak, you are at higher risk as well.
The symptoms of monkeypox in humans appear to be similar to but milder than the symptoms of smallpox. Monkeypox starts with fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. The incubation period for monkeypox is normally 7 to 14 days and can last from 5 up to 21 days. Within 1 to 3 days after the symptoms of fever, the patient develops rashes, mostly starting from the face and then spreading to other parts of the body. The lesions progress through stages of macules, papules, vesicles, and pustules followed by scabs before falling off. This disease usually lasts for 2 to 4 weeks.
Treatment of Monkeypox
Currently, there is no specific treatment available for monkeypox virus infection. However, there are some antivirals for smallpox that are shown to be helpful for the monkeypox patients. Firstly, Tecovirimat is an antiviral used for adult smallpox patients and pediatric patients with a weight of at least 3kg. Besides that, there is Cidofovir is used for the treatment of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) patients. Lastly, Brincidofovir, antiviral medication for smallpox disease, is also used for treating monkeypox. If you suspect you have Monkeypox, please consult your physician or doctor immediately to get diagnosed and treated properly.
Monkeypox in Malaysia
As reported by New Straits Times, according to Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, so far, no monkeypox cases have been detected in Malaysia, after three suspected cases were confirmed to be negative for the virus. Out of the three suspected Monkeypox cases, two of them are chickenpox and one has hand-foot and mouth disease.
Vaccines for Monkeypox
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), vaccination for smallpox can also be used for monkeypox because the vaccine is shown to be protective against monkeypox as well. A few observational studies show the effectiveness of smallpox vaccination is around 85% in the prevention of monkeypox.
Monkeypox death rate
So far, there have been no reported deaths in the recent May 2022 outbreak. In the past, the mortality rate of monkeypox was reported to be around 3 to 6%, according to WHO.
Monkeypox prevention tips
Several preventative measures are worth taking note to prevent monkeypox virus infection. Firstly, avoid contact with animals that can harbour the virus, including sick animals or those found dead in areas where monkeypox cases occur. It is crucial to also avoid contact with any materials like bedding that has been in contact with sick animals. Thirdly, it is essential to isolate monkeypox patients from others. Good hand hygiene should be practised all the time. For instance, washing hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
If you have any questions about Monkeypox or other health related issues, you can speak to our pharmacists via our telepharmacy service below.