Will the New Monkeypox Outbreak Result in Another Pandemic?
By: Krunal, Diamond
Published On: June 17, 2022
Let us explain.
The virus, known as monkeypox, is still in the endemic stage and is not as fatal as COVID-19. However, we should take enough precautions and follow appropriate measures to ensure that this virus doesn’t enter the pandemic stage. Read further to learn more about the monkeypox virus.
Why Is the Virus Called ‘Monkeypox’?
As the disease was first identified in colonies of monkeys kept for research purposes in 1958, it is called monkeypox. After 12 years, it was first detected in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Symptoms of Monkeypox
Some of the most common symptoms of monkeypox include a fever, terrible headache, back pain and muscular pain, low energy, swollen lymph nodes, and skin rashes or bruises.
The rashes usually begin to appear within one to three days of the start of a fever. The rashes are normally found on the face, palms of the hands and soles of the feet. They can also be found inside the mouth, as well as on the genitals and eyes. The bruises can be flat or slightly raised, and the number of bruises on one person can range from a few to several thousand.
Symptoms typically last between 2 to 4 weeks and go away on their own without any treatment. If you think you have monkeypox-related symptoms, seek advice from your family doctor. Let them know if you have come into close contact with someone who has suspected or confirmed monkeypox.
How Does Monkeypox Spread?
Just like coronavirus, which, as per the scientists and virologists, began to spread from bats to human beings, monkeypox can also spread from animals to humans. It can spread when any human being comes into physical contact with an infected animal.
The risk of contracting monkeypox from animals can be minimised by avoiding unprotected contact with wild animals, especially those that are suffering from any illness or are dead (including their meat and blood). In endemic countries, where animals carry monkeypox, any food containing animal meat or parts should be cooked thoroughly before consumption.
Monkeypox is also transmissible among human beings, i.e., it can spread from one human to another. People, who have already contracted monkeypox, are infectious while they have symptoms (normally for between two and four weeks). You can catch the virus if you come into close physical contact with someone who has symptoms. Rashes, bodily fluids (pus or blood from wounds) and scabs are extremely contagious.
Ulcers, lesions or sores in the mouth can also be infectious, which means the virus can spread through saliva too. Due to this, healthcare workers, household members, and sexual partners, who closely interact with someone who is infectious, are at a greater risk of getting infected.
The virus can also spread from a pregnant woman to her foetus from the placenta or from an infected parent to their child during or after birth via skin-to-skin contact.
How Can I Protect Myself and Others Against Monkeypox?
Most of the precautionary measures that you can take to protect yourself from monkeypox are similar to those for COVID-19.
One of the best ways to reduce your risk of contracting monkeypox is by limiting contact with people who have suspected or confirmed the virus.
Encourage the infected person to self-isolate and cover any bruises with a cloth.
Masks are a must. When you are physically close to an infected person, they should wear a medical mask, especially if they are coughing or have lesions in their mouth. You should also wear one. Avoid skin-to-skin contact whenever possible, and use disposable gloves if you need to treat any lesions.
Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitiser, especially after touching the infected person, their clothes, bed sheets, towels and other items or surfaces they have touched. Wash their clothes, towels, bed sheets and utensils with warm water and detergent or disinfectant. Clean and disinfect any contaminated surfaces, and dispose of the waste appropriately.
Vaccination Against Monkeypox
Even though there is no specific vaccine available against monkeypox, there are several vaccines available for the prevention of smallpox that also provide some protection against monkeypox. A newer vaccine developed for smallpox (MVA-BN, also known as Imvamune, Imvanex or Jynneos) was approved for use in preventing monkeypox in 2019, but it’s not yet widely available. WHO is working with the manufacturer to improve accessibility worldwide.
Cases Reported in Non-Endemic Countries
In May 2022, several countries where monkeypox is not yet endemic reported cases. As of May 19, 2022, at least 10 countries from non-endemic areas reported monkeypox cases. Currently, there is no clear link between the cases reported and travel from endemic countries and no link with infected animals.
What is most important right now is to raise awareness about monkeypox among people who are most at risk of infection and provide advice on how to limit further spread amongst people. WHO is working on war footing to support Member States with surveillance, preparedness and outbreak response activities for the monkeypox virus in affected countries.
Is There a Risk of Monkeypox Turning into a Larger Outbreak?
As per WHO, monkeypox is not considered to be too infectious because for the virus to spread between people, it requires close physical contact with an infected person (e.g., skin-to-skin). The risk to the general public is low as of now.
WHO’s priority is to identify how the virus is spreading and to protect more people from becoming infected. Also, raising awareness about this virus will help to stop further transmission.
Stop Stigmatising Certain Groups and Races
Any person who has close physical contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk, regardless of who they are, what they do, who they choose to have sex with, or any other factor.
During an endemic or pandemic, the worst thing anyone can do is to stigmatise a certain group or race. We all should understand that they are not responsible for the monkeypox outbreak.
Stigmatising people because of an illness or a disease is unacceptable, to say the least. It is only likely to make things worse and stop us from ending this outbreak as quickly as possible. We all need to come together and support anyone who has been infected or who is taking care of people who are unwell.
Renaming the Virus
WHO is looking to change the name of the virus amid calls from scientists from Africa for a "non-discriminatory and non-stigmatising" nomenclature.
“WHO is also working with partners and experts from around the world on changing the name of #monkeypox virus, its clades and the disease it causes. We will make announcements about the new names as soon as possible,” said WHO chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
One new name that's been suggested by scientists is hMPXV.
How Does ImpactGuru Come into Play?
ImpactGuru is one of the best crowdfunding platforms in the world. The organisation, with the help of generous donors, intends to raise funds for people suffering from diseases like monkeypox and other critical illnesses. ImpactGuru strives to help those who cannot afford the costly treatment and hospital bills. So far, it has helped over 5,00,000 individuals and NGOs.