Symptoms of monkeypox usually appear in this order

  • Initial symptoms of monkeypox include fever, body aches and fatigue.
  • The disease is similar to the smallpox virus but is less deadly.
  • The disease can lead to the appearance of a rash that leads to Red bumps on the skin.

A rare condition called monkeypox has been confirmed in the United States and Europe, with more suspected cases worldwide. With only about 200 confirmed cases, health experts are beginning to investigate the spread and what this means for the public.

Monkeypox virus is a virus that originated in animals in West and Central Africa. And while the disease is usually restricted to animals, as previous outbreaks have shown, it can also be transmitted to humans.

“This is a virus that belongs to the same group as the smallpox virus; it’s a milder, less lethal form of it,” says Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee.

The first confirmed case on May 7 was from a person who had traveled to the UK from Nigeria. Additional cases were observed in London but were not related to the first case indicating unrelated chains of infection. So far, there have been no reports of death.

The initial symptoms of monkeypox are upper respiratory or flu-like symptoms. However, they do not appear for up to two weeks after someone has been infected.

“If you’re exposed to the virus and you get infected with it, it has a very long incubation period — and once it’s in the body, it affects the internal organs first,” Schaffner explained.

“These symptoms include a very pronounced fever, body aches, headache and fatigue,” he continued.

While the body is fighting these symptoms, swollen lymph nodes, or swollen lymph nodes, appear after the initial symptoms.

These symptoms then develop into a rash that often appears on the hands, feet, face, mouth, or even the genitals. These rashes turn into raised bumps or painful red pus-filled papules.

“Illness often lasts 2 to 4 weeks” and usually requires avoiding close contact with others to limit and prevent spread, explains Dr. Jeremy Walker, associate professor at the University of Alabama in the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama.

If you have symptoms, Walker shares the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendations for calling your doctor, especially if you’ve “recently traveled to Central or West Africa, or areas within Europe where multiple cases have been reported.”

Additionally, if you “have been in contact with someone who has suspected or known monkeypox or been a man who comes in close contact with men on a regular basis.”

Monkeypox is transmitted from person to person through close contact.

“This virus is transmitted through respiratory droplets, which requires direct face-to-face contact or close contact with another person — which is very different from COVID-19,” Schaffner told Healthline.

With this virus, we see chains of transmission linked to another person. However, unlike COVID-19, which has had the potential to transmit to others by respiratory and airborne routes, we do not expect to see significant cases of transmission with monkeypox.”

Health experts at Center for Disease Control It has been shown that human-to-human transmission traditionally occurs through respiratory droplets that require prolonged face-to-face contact because respiratory droplets cannot travel more than a few feet. Animal-to-human transmission usually occurs through broken skin from a bite or scratch.

There are two types of this virus, the West African and Central African form.

“According to the World Health Organization, all cases whose samples were confirmed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) were West African,” says Dr. Jeremy Walker, associate professor at the University of Alabama in the Department of Infectious Diseases in Birmingham.

“Infections in the West African massif tend to be less severe than in the (Central Africa) Congo Basin clade, and there is a lower case fatality rate,” Walker told Healthline.

These outbreaks are not new. The virus was first detected in monkeys in 1958with the appearance of the first human case in 1970. Since that time, there have been multiple outbreaks that switched from animals to humans.

While most cases are usually within Africa, previous outbreaks have appeared in Israel, the United States and Singapore. The last outbreak in the United States was in 2003, with 47 cases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there is currently no proven or safe treatment for monkeypox, and that most people recover and survive without any intervention.

While vaccines for monkeypox transmission have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, they have not been used in the general population for nearly 50 years and are currently still in the Strategic National Stockpile.

“Currently, there is no plan to use any vaccines in the United States for monkeypox, as we only have a small number of cases, however, the CDC is making plans in case they should be used in the future,” he said. Schaffner.

While the symptoms of monkeypox are vague and appear to be similar to many of the more common upper respiratory infections, there are reasons to call a doctor.

Walker explains, “If you have a new, unexplained rash, you should contact your doctor for evaluation and treatment. Your doctor can assess any concerns about monkeypox, as well as coordinate appropriate action and treatment for many other causes of the rash as well.”

Dr. Rajiv Bahl is an emergency medicine physician, board member of the Florida College of Emergency Physicians, and health writer. You can find it at RajivBahlMD.com.

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