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World Zoonoses Day: What is Monkeypox and How can we Prevent its Spread?

Every year on July 6, World Zoonoses Day is observed to honour the first zoonotic disease vaccination given, such as those against West Nile virus, ebola, and influenza.
Zoonotic disorders are brought on by bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites. These microorganisms can cause a variety of ailments in both humans and animals, ranging in severity. Some may even be fatal. Animals, unlike people, frequently seem healthy even when they contain these infections.
The goal of World Zoonoses Day, which was established on July 6th, 1885, was to inform people about zoonotic diseases—those that may spread from animals to people. It honours Louis Pasteur, a French biologist who gave the first dosage of the first anti-rabies vaccine.
On this World Zoonoses Day, let us know about ‘Monkey Pox’, a Zoonoses disease rapidly spreading across 53 countries of the world.

What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a disease caused by the monkeypox virus. It is a viral zoonotic disease, meaning that it can spread from animals to humans. It can also spread between people. The disease is called monkeypox because it was first identified in colonies of monkeys kept for research in 1958. It was only later detected in humans in 1970.

Monkeypox - Blisters

Where is Monkeypox found typically?

Monkeypox is commonly found in central and west Africa where there are tropical rainforests and where animals that may carry the virus typically live. People with monkeypox are occasionally identified in other countries outside of central and west Africa, following travel from regions where monkeypox is endemic.

What are the Symptoms of Moneypox?

Symptoms of monkeypox typically include a fever, intense headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy, swollen lymph nodes and a skin rash or lesions. The rash usually begins within one to three days of the start of a fever. Lesions can be flat or slightly raised, filled with clear or yellowish fluid, and can then crust, dry up and fall off. The number of lesions on one person can range from a few to several thousand. The rash tends to be concentrated on the face, palms of the hands and soles of the feet. They can also be found on the mouth, genitals and eyes. Symptoms typically last between 2 to 4 weeks and go away on their own without treatment.

Is Moneypox fatal in nature?

According to the World Health Organisation, in most cases, the symptoms of monkeypox go away on their own within a few weeks, but in some individuals, they can lead to medical complications and even death. Newborns, children and people with underlying immune deficiencies may be at risk of more serious symptoms and death from monkeypox. Complications from severe cases of monkeypox include skin infections, pneumonia, confusion and eye infections which can lead to loss of vision. Around 3–6% of reported cases have led to death in endemic countries in recent times, often in children or persons who may have other health conditions.  It is important to note that this may be an overestimate because surveillance in endemic countries is limited.

The Spread of Monkeypox in May 2022

Several countries where monkeypox is not endemic have reported cases. The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday said that 5,322 laboratory-confirmed cases of monkeypox had been reported to it from 53 countries — both endemic and non-endemic.
“From January 1 to June 30 this year, we have 5,322 laboratory-confirmed cases and one death,” from 53 countries, WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told reporters.
Of these, “85 per cent are in Europe, followed by the African region, the Americas, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Pacific”, she added.

Vaccine and Treatment for Moneypox

There are several vaccines available for prevention of smallpox that also provide some protection against monkeypox. A newer vaccine that was developed for smallpox was approved in 2019 for use in preventing monkeypox and is not yet widely available. WHO is working with the manufacturer to improve access. People who have been vaccinated against smallpox in the past will also have some protection against monkeypox.
The original smallpox vaccines are no longer available to the general public, and people below the age of 40–50 years are unlikely to have been vaccinated, since vaccination against smallpox ended in 1980 after it became the first disease to be eradicated. Some laboratory personnel or health workers may have been vaccinated with a more recent smallpox vaccine.
Monkeypox symptoms often resolve on their own without the need for treatment. It is important to take care of the rash by letting it dry if possible or covering with a moist dressing to protect the area if needed. Avoid touching any sores in the mouth or eyes. Mouth rinses and eye drops can be used as long as cortisone-containing products are avoided. Vaccinia immune globulin may be recommended for severe cases. An antiviral that was developed to treat smallpox was also approved for the treatment of monkeypox in January 2022.

Preventing the Spread of the Virus

Monkeypox is a contagious disease which spreads through human contact. Therefore, the best way to stop its spread is to decreasing contact with animals and persons infected with it. In order to check its spread, one can take following steps:
– Avoid contact with infected animals (especially sick or dead animals).
– Avoid contact with bedding and other materials contaminated with the virus.
– Thoroughly cook all foods that contain animal meat or parts.
– Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
– Avoid contact with people who may be infected with the virus.
– Practice safe sex, including the use of condoms and dental dams.
– Wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose when around others.
– Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
– Use personal protective equipment (PPE) when caring for people infected with the virus.