HealthPakistan

Monkeypox: What You Need to Know About This Rare Disease!

Monkeypox is a rare viral zoonotic disease that was first discovered in 1958 when outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in monkeys kept for research. The first human case was reported in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) during intensified efforts to eliminate smallpox. Since then, monkeypox has been reported in humans in other central and western African countries.

Symptoms

The symptoms of monkeypox are similar to but milder than the symptoms of smallpox. Monkeypox begins with fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion. Within 1 to 3 days (sometimes longer) after the appearance of fever, the patient develops a rash, often beginning on the face and then spreading to other parts of the body.

Prevention

There is no specific treatment for monkeypox. However, people vaccinated for smallpox are less likely to get monkeypox. In addition, steps can be taken to prevent infection with the monkeypox virus:

  • Avoid contact with animals that could harbour the virus (including animals that are sick or that have been found dead in areas where monkeypox occurs).
  • Avoid contact with materials that have been contaminated with the virus (such as bedding or clothing).
  • Isolate infected patients from others who could be at risk for infection.
  • Practice good hand hygiene after contact with infected animals or humans.

Transmission

Monkeypox is a zoonotic disease, which means it is transmitted to people from animals. The virus is thought to be transmitted to people from wild animals such as rodents and primates. In Africa, human infections have been documented through the handling of infected monkeys or rodents that were found dead or sick in the forest.

Monkeypox in Pakistan

Pakistan has recently reported its first case of monkeypox1. The Ministry of National Health Science has issued guidelines regarding monkeypox to all airports in Pakistan following the detection of a case at the Islamabad airport1. The patient had arrived from Nigeria via Dubai on March 16 and was admitted to a hospital in Islamabad on March 17. The patient has since recovered and has been discharged.

The guidelines issued by the Ministry of National Health Science include measures such as:

  • Screening passengers arriving from countries where monkeypox is endemic.
  • Isolating suspected cases.
  • Providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare workers.
  • Conducting surveillance activities.

There is no approved treatment for human monkeypox virus infection. However, smallpox vaccination can defend counter to the disease. Human sensitivity to monkeypox virus infection has grown after mass vaccination was discontinued in the 1980s. However, with prevention and care, we can avoid repeating another episode of a pandemic. Stay safe, stay healthy. 

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