The mystery of monkeypox

“All these information point to the need for a thorough sanitation routine among the population.

July 31, 2022

If catching Covid-19 these days seems no longer a cause for alarm, what of monkeypox — the latest virus to spread worldwide and which has now reached the Philippines?

Its most common symptoms, according to an advisory from the World Health Organization (WHO), include fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy and swollen lymph nodes.

On first impression, these are flu-like symptoms. But what comes next looks horrifying: The development of a rash which can last for two to three weeks.

Said the WHO advisory: “The rash can be found on the face, palms of the hands, soles of the feet, eyes, mouth, throat, groin, and genital and/or anal regions of the body. The number of lesions can range from one to several thousand. Lesions begin flat, then fill with liquid before they crust over, dry up and fall off, with a fresh layer of skin forming underneath.”

Beyond its discovery in 1958, when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research, monkeypox remains a mystery.

What’s apparent, at this point, is worth our attention:

“In most cases, the symptoms of monkeypox go away on their own within a few weeks. However, in some people, an infection could lead to medical complications and even death. Newborn babies, children and people with underlying immune deficiencies may be at risk of more serious symptoms and death from monkeypox.”

“Complications from monkeypox include secondary skin infections, pneumonia, confusion and eye problems. In the past, between one to 10 percent of people with monkeypox have died. It is important to note that death rates in different settings may differ due to a number of factors, such as access to health care.”

“These figures may be an overestimate because surveillance for monkeypox has generally been limited in the past. In the newly affected countries where the current outbreak is taking place, there have been no deaths to date.”

“Monkeypox spreads from person to person through close contact with someone who has a monkeypox rash, including through face-to-face, skin-to-skin, mouth-to-mouth or mouth-to-skin contact, including sexual contact.”

WHO adds: “We are still learning about how long people with monkeypox are infectious for, but generally they are considered infectious until all of their lesions have crusted over, the scabs have fallen off and a new layer of skin has formed underneath.”

“Environments can become contaminated with the monkeypox virus, for example, when an infectious person touches clothing, bedding, towels, objects, electronics and surfaces. Someone else who touches these items can then become infected. It is also possible to become infected from breathing in skin flakes or virus from clothing, bedding or towels.”

“Ulcers, lesions or sores in the mouth can be infectious, meaning the virus can spread through direct contact with the mouth, respiratory droplets and possibly through short-range aerosols. Possible mechanisms of transmission through the air for monkeypox are not yet well understood and studies are underway to learn more.”

“The virus can also spread from someone who is pregnant to the fetus, after birth through skin-to-skin contact, or from a parent with monkeypox to an infant or child during close contact.”

All these information point to the need for a thorough sanitation routine among the population, not to mention prudence in sexual activity.

In any case, it goes without saying the Health Department is duty-bound to issue regular updates on whether or not monkeypox is containable this early.


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