7 important questions (and answers) about the monkeypox virus

Monkeypox virus has been circulating in Europe and North America for some time, while monkeypox does not often occur in those countries. The monkeypox virus has now also appeared in the Netherlands and the number of cases has doubled. This raises many questions. How do you get? What are the symptoms and risks and is there a treatment?

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7 questions and answers about monkeypox

  1. What is monkeypox virus?
  2. Who is at risk of getting monkeypox?
  3. How does the virus spread?
  4. How do you get monkeypox?
  5. What actions can be taken against monkeypox?
  6. What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
  7. Is there a cure for monkeypox?

What is monkeypox virus?

Monkeypox virus, officially known as “monkeypox”, is one of the viruses that infect smallpox. It is found mainly in the countries of West and Central Africa. Monkeypox is a disease caused by the monkeypox virus. It is a zoonotic viral disease, which means that it can be transmitted from animals to humans. It can also spread between people. On 30 May 2022, 26 cases were known in the Netherlands.

Monkey pox: 26 people have been infected so far, RIVM reports

Who is at risk of getting monkeypox?

A person who is in close physical contact with someone showing symptoms of monkeypox virus, or with an infected animal, is at greater risk of infection. People who have been vaccinated against smallpox may have some protection against monkeypox infection. However, it is unlikely that young people would have received the smallpox vaccine, as smallpox is no longer vaccinated worldwide after it became the first human disease to be eradicated in 1980. While people vaccinated against smallpox would have some protection Against monkeypox, they must also take precautions to protect themselves and others.

Newborns, children, and people with primary immunodeficiency are at risk of developing more severe symptoms and could die of monkeypox. About 3 to 6 percent of reported cases have resulted in death in recently endemic countries, mostly in children or individuals who may have other health problems. It is important to note that this may be an overestimation because surveillance is limited in endemic countries.

How does the virus spread?

Because it is an animal viral disease, monkeypox can spread to humans when they come into physical contact with an infected animal. The host animals are rodents and monkeys. You can reduce the risk of getting monkeypox from animals by avoiding unprotected contact with wild animals. Especially with sick or dead animals (including their own flesh and blood) contact should be avoided. In countries where animals transmit monkeypox, food containing meat or animal parts must be thoroughly cooked before eating.

Monkeypox can also be transmitted from person to person. This is done through close physical contact. More on that in the next question.

How do you get monkeypox?

People with monkeypox are contagious while they develop symptoms (usually two to four weeks). You can get monkeypox from close physical contact with a person who is showing symptoms. Rashes of monkeypox virus, body fluids (such as fluid, pus, or blood from skin lesions), and crusts are particularly contagious. Clothes, bedding, towels, or things such as cutlery/dishes that have been contaminated through contact with an infected person can infect others as well. The virus can also spread through droplets from the vesicles or from the oral cavity, but not through airborne droplets.

Sores, lesions, or sores in the mouth can also be contagious, which means that the virus can spread through saliva. People who have close contact with an infectious person, including health professionals, family members, and sexual partners, are more likely to become infected. The virus can also spread from a pregnant person to the fetus from the placenta, or from an infected parent to a child during or after birth through skin-to-skin contact. However, it is not clear whether people without symptoms can spread the disease.

What actions can be taken against monkeypox?

According to health services and experts, the spread of monkeypox virus should be stopped mainly by timely isolation of patients. However, vaccines developed against the “natural” smallpox virus could also offer a solution. Smallpox vaccine is also useful against monkeypox. The smallpox vaccine can be used in the first days after a possible infection. In addition, the vaccine can be used beforehand to protect people at greater risk of infection. There is a registered treatment against monkeypox for hospitalized patients with serious complaints, but this is available to a limited extent.

If someone tests positive for monkeypox, GGD initiates a source and contact investigation, in which GGD tries to find out where the infection occurred and who else it was contacted. Then you have to stay in isolation. You may not be in contact with others until all complaints are over. In monkeypox, this occurs when all the scales – which cause blisters – shed from your skin. High-risk contacts of infected individuals should be isolated. These are, for example, people you have had sex with, your family members, or others who have had contact with skin blisters.

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

Symptoms of monkeypox usually include fever, severe headache, muscle aches, back pain, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash or lesions. The rash usually begins within one to three days of the onset of the fever. This rash usually begins on the face and then appears all over the body, but it tends to focus on the face, palms, and soles. This rash begins with spots that turn into blisters. After the blisters dry, crusts that eventually ooze from the skin remain after two to three weeks.

Is there a cure for monkeypox?

Symptoms usually last between two and four weeks and go away on their own without treatment. Moreover, smallpox vaccine can be effective in treating monkeypox. It is important to take care of the rash by allowing it to dry or covering it with a moist bandage if necessary to protect the area. Avoid touching the sores in the mouth or eyes.

You can read all of Metro’s articles about the monkeypox virus here.

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7 important questions (and answers) about the monkeypox virus

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