Monkeypox on the doorstep of Ukraine: what you need to know about symptoms, prevention and treatment
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Answers to the most pressing questions about the monkeypox virus – how the virus spreads, whether it is possible to protect yourself from it, and what symptoms you should be aware of.
monkeypox. This is not a new disease, it was first discovered back in 1958 – then two outbreaks occurred in a group of monkeys used for research.
Epidemiologists are recording the most massive outbreaks of the disease today in the United States and Brazil, Spain, Germany and the UK
According to the Minister of Health of Ukraine Viktor Lyashko, there are no cases of infection in Ukraine today, but the Ministry of Health went ahead of the curve and prepared a springboard for diagnosis of the disease – test systems for the detection of monkeypox.
It should be noted that although no cases of the disease have been detected in our country, the virus is close to the borders of Ukraine – for example, cases of monkeypox infection have been recorded in Moldova, Romania, Latvia and Poland. The largest number of cases was recorded in the latter.
What is monkeypox and how did it appear
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by a virus belonging to the orthopoxvirus family. Previously, it was found only in parts of Africa, but it was also seen in other regions of the world.
To date, scientists have identified two types of monkeypox virus – the first one originated in Central Africa, the second – West. Luckily for us, the current worldwide outbreak of monkeypox is caused by a less dangerous type of West African virus.
The virus is most commonly accompanied by flu-like symptoms such as chills, fever, and a rash that usually clears up within a few weeks. Scientists have found that the virus is most often transmitted through human contact with an infected animal, less often through skin contact with an infected person.
For decades, scientists have observed outbreaks of monkeypox only in the aisles of Africa, as well as isolated cases outside the continent. But in 2022, everything has changed – outbreaks of monkeypox appeared one after another on different continents – now they are observed in the Americas, Europe and Australia.
Carat of monkeypox in 2022
How not to catch monkeypox
Scientists have found that monkeypox is transmitted through contact with an infected animal or person. Infection from an animal is possible through damaged skin, such as scratches or cuts. Infection is also possible through direct contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person, and directly through contact with smallpox foci (ulcers).
It is noted that although infection from person to person is less common, it is also possible. Most often, the disease provokes contact with ulcers, scabs, respiratory particles or oral fluid – hugs, kisses, sex. While scientists have not been able to determine whether it is possible to contract monkeypox through vaginal secretions or semen, research continues. Scientists consider contact with the patient’s belongings or clothing to be another way of infection.
By the way, there are no age restrictions for monkeypox – in Africa, most of the cases are children under 15 years old, outside the continent – the age of the infected varies. There is a hypothesis that outside of Africa the monkeypox virus is more common in homosexual men, but science knows numerous cases of the disease in people who do not fall into this category.
Main symptoms of monkeypox
Science knows cases when the first symptoms appeared in infected people only after a few weeks, in other cases, the symptoms appear already in the first days of infection. Scientists identify an approximate incubation period ranging from several days to several weeks.
The first signs of infection are similar to influenza symptoms:
- fever and chills;
- headache and muscle pain;
- inflammation of the lymph nodes.
More serious symptoms of monkeypox are:
- difficulty breathing;
- new or worse chest pain;
- neck stiffness;< /li>
- unclearness of consciousness;
- inability to speak or move;
- loss of consciousness;
If any of these signs appear, seek immediate medical attention.
In most cases, the rash appears in the patient after a few days. The first smallpox lesions are flat red bumps that cause discomfort and pain. Scientists note that ulcers can appear not only on the skin of the sick person, but also on the mucous tissues – in the mouth, vagina or anus. After a while, the bumps become blisters and fill with pus. At the last stage, the blisters dry up, crust over and eventually fall off. Studies have shown that the entire process can take two to four weeks.
However, the symptoms of the current outbreak of monkeypox may be slightly different – there are cases when the disease proceeded without inflammation and swollen lymph nodes, fever and other primary symptoms. Scientists strongly recommend that you seek medical attention if you find a number of symptoms similar to the first signs of monkeypox.
How monkeypox is diagnosed
The virus has similar symptoms to respiratory diseases and diseases with rashes, and therefore a deeper analysis will be required. Even in the presence of known symptoms, it is necessary to undergo a PCR test that will confirm or deny the presence of the virus. Monkeypox lesions resemble ulcers in other rash-causing diseases, such as measles or chickenpox. To make a correct diagnosis, you will need to take a sample of the affected tissue and a blood test.
Top countries in the number of cases of monkeypox infection
How monkeypox is treated
Monkeypox is considered a self-limiting disease – as a rule, after 2-4 weeks, all symptoms disappear and the disease goes away. Doctors advise patients during this period to avoid contact with people, monitor the water balance and take drugs to treat secondary bacterial infections, if any occur. Scientists have also investigated the benefits of antiviral drugs in the fight against monkeypox – they can partially relieve symptoms, but are not a panacea. Researchers are also working on several experimental drugs, but they are not currently available to the general public.
Three vaccines have been developed so far and are recommended for use against monkeypox. However, only one is officially approved in Canada, the European Union and the United States – MVA-BN, the other two are still at the stage of studying their effectiveness. Scientists note that vaccination does not provide instant protection against the virus, and it may take several weeks for the body to adapt.
- avoid contact with infected animals (especially sick or dead);
- avoid contact with bed linen and other items of sick people, as well as unfamiliar people;
- thermally process products, especially meat;
- wash hands with soap and use antiseptic;
- avoid contact with people who may be infected with the virus;
- use contraception and avoid unprotected sex;< /li>
- wear a mask covering your mouth and nose in public;
- avoid touching surfaces in public.
Can you die from monkeypox
A less serious West African monkeypox virus is raging in the world today. By itself, it is not capable of leading to death. The same can't be said about the complications that can be caused by monkeypox, such as pneumonia, infections of the brain and eyes, and they can be fatal. To date, more than a dozen cases of monkeypox infection with a fatal outcome have already been documented in the world.