A First Look at Monkeypox

May you live in interesting times! This is undoubtedly a phrase with a double meaning. It has usually been found in fortune cookies in restaurants all over the world.

Unfortunately, we are passing through some difficult times when it comes to health issues.

The world has recently just recovered from the Covid-19 virus, or so it seems.

Conditions have relaxed all over the world, and this was invariably a response to the umpteen restrictions that were enforced on hapless citizens in the name of disease control and prevention.

The Specter of a New Disease

Monkeypox is the name that scientists have given to the new disease that is spreading across the world these days. At first glance, it is remarkably similar to chickenpox, and is even thought to be an offshoot or variant of this disease.

However, there are some differences. The result of being infected with Monkeypox is that the victim breaks out in skin rashes and lesions that look similar to smallpox but are more pronounced. It looks like small boils on the skin.

Stages of the Disease

The CDC has described the following stages in the development of this disease:

During the initial incubation period of two weeks, the patient will experience such conditions as swollen lymph nodes, followed by fever and chills. The patient will feel exhausted. He or she might also have headaches and muscle weakness.

In the next stage, the patient will develop rash on the face and body. These raised lesions called poxes may also be found inside the mouth and on the palms and soles of the patient.

The lesions are painful and are filled with a fluid. They are surrounded by red circles.

After some pain management from the doctor, including over the counter medications, the lesions disappear within two to three weeks.

Although anyone can get Monkeypox, it has been found more likely to spread among the LGBTQ community. Lesions typically first develop around the genital area. That is also why it was mistakenly taken to be a sexually transmitted disease earlier.

How serious is it?

In terms of mortality rates for the disease, this is mercifully in the range of just 1 percent, or 1 per 100 people infected. But this is only when no treatment is done, or the patient is in some remote area where no access to medical help is possible.

How is Monkeypox spread?

Once again, scientists have found that the spread of Monkeypox requires close proximity with an infected individual. This is a normal occurrence for the spread of most contagious diseases.

Exposure to broken skin, infected blood and sputum, in fact even droplets of breath have been known to carry the disease to others. So be careful and keep your mask handy.   

A word of caution: Monkeypox has even been known to spread via the bed linen of patients, or the remnants of the scabs of lesions that have been shed off from patients.

In essence, it’s the same old mantra. Social distancing and personal hygiene will keep you safe every time.