US reports first case of monkeypox; Check symptoms, treatment of rare disease

  • Monkeypox illness is often likened to a milder form of smallpox, a disease that has been eradicated globally through widespread vaccination
  • Britain reported its first case of monkeypox on May 7 and has found nine in total since then

Livemint
Updated19 May 2022
Monkeypox spreads in US and Europe
Monkeypox spreads in US and Europe(via REUTERS)

The US has reported a rare case of monkeypox in a man who had recently travelled to Canada. Now, the health officials are looking at whether it is connected to small outbreaks in Europe, reported in the UK, Portugal, and Spain.

In the US, the first Monkeypox case is reported in Massachusetts. The man traveled to Canada at the end of April to meet friends and returned in early May. As per the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) statement, the man used private transportation.

The case is the first in the US this year. Last year, Texas and Maryland each reported a case in people who traveled to Nigeria.

Separately, health officials in Canada have also begun an investigation into more than a dozen of suspected monkeypox after the US and Europe reported the rare infectious disease.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said it was also "collaborating closely" with international partners including the World Health Organization (WHO), the US CDC and Prevention, and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) on the investigation.

Britain reported its first case of monkeypox on May 7 and has found nine in total since then, while Portuguese health officials confirmed five cases Wednesday and Spain is investigating more than 20 possible infections.

About Monkeypox origin

Monkeypox was first identified in the 1950s when two outbreaks occurred in colonies of monkeys used for research purposes, with the first human case reported in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The illness is often likened to a milder form of smallpox, a disease that has been eradicated globally through widespread vaccination against the smallpox virus.

To date, the rare infection was limited to Africa but it has now spread across Europe and North America. The earliest known case in the UK was linked to travel in Nigeria, according to the UK Health Security Agency.

 

Mokeypox outbreak: An electron microscopic (EM) image shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virus particles as well as crescents and spherical particles of immature virions, obtained from a clinical human skin sample.

Monkeypox symptoms

Monkeypox typically begins with a flu-like illness and swelling of the lymph nodes, followed by a rash on the face and body.

Monkeypox comes from the same family of viruses like smallpox. Most people recover from monkeypox within weeks, but the disease is fatal for up to 1 in 10 people, according to the World Health Organization.

 

Monkeypox outbreak: An image created during an investigation into an outbreak of the rare infection


Monkeypox transmission: How does the disease spread?

According to the CDC, the transmission of the monkeypox virus occurs when a person comes into contact with the virus from an animal, human, or materials contaminated with the virus. The virus enters the body through broken skin (even if not visible), respiratory tract, or mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth).

Animal-to-human transmission may occur by bite or scratch, direct contact with body fluids or lesion material, or indirect contact with lesion material, such as through contaminated bedding. In Africa, people have been infected through bites from rodents or small animals, and it does not usually spread easily among people. Human-to-human transmission is thought to occur primarily through large respiratory droplets.

However, investigators in Europe say most of the cases have been in a gay or bisexual men, and officials are looking into the possibility that some infections were spread through close contact during sex.

The UKHSA said four of the cases detected in Britain self-identified as gay or bi-sexual.

Monkeypox cure:

The smallpox vaccine is largely effective against monkeypox. However, there is no proven treatment.

For purposes of controlling a monkeypox outbreak, the smallpox vaccine, antivirals, and vaccinia immune globulin (VIG) can be used, CDC said.

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