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Understanding the Spread, Symptoms and Prevention of Monkey Pox

The Nigeria Center for Diseases Control (NCDC) in September 2019 reported 15 new suspected monkeypox cases from five States – Lagos (5), Rivers (2), Akwa Ibom (3), Zamfara (1), Delta (1), Imo (2) and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT (1). Five of the 15 suspected cases were confirmed positive for monkeypox in three states- Lagos (3), Rivers (1) and Akwa Ibom (1). It is important for Nigerians to understand the pathophysiology of monkeypox to prevent infection.

Monkeypox is a rare smallpox-like disease that occurs primarily in the rain forest countries of central and West Africa. The disease is caused by Monkey pox virus, which belongs to the orthopoxvirus group of viruses. In Africa, monkeypox infection has been found in many animal species: rope squirrels, tree squirrels, Gambian rats, striped mice, dormice and primates.

Common signs and symptoms of Monkey pox

The symptoms of monkey pox in humans are similar to but milder than the symptoms of smallpox. The common signs of monkey pox are fever, headache, muscle aches, and exhaustion. The main difference between symptoms of smallpox and monkey pox is that monkey pox causes lymph nodes to swell (lymphadenopathy) while small pox does not. The incubation period for monkey pox is usually 7−14 days but can range from 5−21 days. Within 1 to 3 days after the appearance of fever, the patient develops a rash, often beginning on the face then spreading to other parts of the body.

Transmission of Monkey pox

Monkey pox can spread when a person comes into contact with the monkey pox virus from an animal, human, or materials contaminated with the virus. The virus enters the body through broken skin, respiratory tract, or the mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth). Animal-to-human transmission may occur by bite or scratch, bush meat preparation, direct contact with body fluids or lesion material, or indirect contact with lesion material, such as through contaminated bedding. Human-to-human transmission occur primarily through large respiratory droplets. Other human-to-human methods of transmission include direct contact with body fluids or lesion material, and indirect contact with lesion material, such as through contaminated clothing or linens.

Prevention of Monkey pox

Monkey pox infection can be prevented using the measures listed below:

  • Avoid contact with animals that could harbor the virus (including animals that are sick or that have been found dead in areas where monkey pox occurs).
  • Avoid contact with any materials, such as bedding, that has been in contact with a sick animal.
  • Isolate infected patients from others who could be at risk for infection.
  • Practice good hand hygiene after contact with infected animals or humans. For example, washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Use personal protective equipment (PPE) when caring for patients.

Controlling infection in health-care settings

Health-care workers caring for patients with suspected or confirmed monkey pox virus infection, or handling specimens from them, should implement standard infection control precautions.
Healthcare workers and those treating or exposed to patients with monkey pox or their samples should consider being immunized against smallpox through their national health authorities. Samples taken from people and animals with suspected monkey pox virus infection should be handled by trained staff working in suitably equipped laboratories. Transporting of patient specimens should ensure safe packaging and follow guidelines for infectious substances.



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