Monkeypox is a rare but potentially serious viral disease that, like its name suggests, stems from animals, albeit rodents specifically. Its symptoms often resemble those of other illnesses such as chickenpox or smallpox, which can make accurate diagnosis difficult for medical professionals. It is therefore important for readers to familiarize themselves with the key symptoms of monkeypox, preventative measures, and treatment options should the need arise.
The common symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, and rash. The rash typically evolves to form fluid-filled bumps and scabs. In some cases, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and fatigue have also been reported. The period between exposure and the onset of symptoms, known as the incubation period, can range from 5 to 21 days.
Since monkeypox’s symptoms resemble other illnesses like smallpox, chickenpox, and measles, diagnosing the disease accurately can be challenging. Medical professionals may have to rule out other diseases first before testing for monkeypox. In many cases, a physical examination initially leads to the diagnosis being suspected before confirmation through specialist diagnostic tests. Diagnostic tests may include blood and urine tests, as well as swabs from skin lesions.
Prevention and Treatment
Preventing monkeypox infection involves avoiding contact with infected animals or substances. People who work with animals and their products or travel to areas where monkeypox is common should take appropriate precautions, including using gloves and protective clothing when handling animals or animal products. Practising good hygiene such as washing hands regularly is also important. Vaccination against monkeypox is currently unavailable, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) do recommend smallpox vaccination for people considered at risk for infection with monkeypox.
Treatment options for monkeypox are supportive care and antiviral medication. Supportive measures include keeping the affected person hydrated, providing pain relief, and caring for any secondary infections that may arise.
A young girl in the United Kingdom was recently diagnosed with monkeypox after returning from Nigeria. She presented with rashes and other symptoms, and it took several days before being correctly diagnosed. Another case is that of a man in Singapore, who was diagnosed with monkeypox after visiting Nigeria.
In both cases, prompt diagnosis and treatment was key to a successful recovery from the disease.
Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at the University Health Network in Toronto, Canada, warns that monkeypox remains rare, but can still pose a serious risk to individuals who come into contact with it or who have travelled to high-risk areas. He recommends that travellers to West and Central Africa, where monkeypox is prevalent, take appropriate precautions and seek medical attention promptly if they develop symptoms.
While rare, monkeypox is still a health risk, particularly for people who come into contact with animals or animal products. Understanding the key symptoms, preventative measures, and available treatments is important for everyone, particularly travelers to areas such as West and Central Africa where the virus is prevalent. If there is any suspicion that you may be infected with monkeypox, it is important to seek medical attention promptly.