Home / Science / Health /  Monkeypox panic in Europe, should India worry? Details of spread, symptoms and diagnosis

A number of monkeypox cases have been identified in recent days, mostly in young men in Europe. In Europe, infections have been reported in Britain, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.  On Wednesday, US officials reported one case of monkeypox in a man who had recently travelled to Canada, where authorities are investigating potential infections.

Health officials have little clue where people caught the monkeypox virus. And there's concern the virus may be spreading through the community — undetected — and possibly through a new route of transmission.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, there are thousands of monkeypox infections in about a dozen African countries every year.

Livemint spoke to Dr. Rajesh Jaria, Consultant, Internal Medicine, P D Hinduja Hospital & Medical Research Centre, Khar and Dr Sulaiman Ladhani, Consulting Chest Physician MD Chest and Tuberculosis, Masina Hospital, Mumbai. They explained all about monkeypox

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a very rare disease, which is similar to smallpox, but it is a milder form caused by the monkey pox virus. 

Why monkeypox virus is spreading rapidly?

Viruses are the smallest particles that can be classified as living. Many a time physical barriers may not stop them and extremely small number of particles are needed to transmit viruses from one organism to another. Monkeypox can be spread by touch/contact with body secretions of infected animals/humans and hence it is transmitting fast. The estimated transmission rate is 3.3% to 30% but a recent outbreak in Congo had an estimated transmission rate of 73%, said Dr. Rajesh Jaria.

How can people catch monkeypox?

This is a zoonosis. Typically, people catch monkeypox from animals in West Africa or central Africa. Person-to-person transmission isn't common, as it requires close contact with bodily fluids, such as saliva from coughing or pus from the lesions. 

Will monkeypox will be next pandemic?

Experts believe the risk for this to turn into a global pandemic is low. But what is bizarre is that the cases have not been traced to a similar source or contacts and therefore another mode of transmission like sexual is being considered as well.

Monkeypox symptoms

Monkeypox is milder compared to smallpox, and the symptoms are similar to smallpox like fever, headache, or rash and flu like symptoms, but it is self limiting and is cured in around three weeks. Apart from flu-like symptoms, monkey pox causes enlargement of lymph nodes or glands, which are there in the body.

Most patients only experience fever, body aches, chills and fatigue. People with more serious illness may develop a rash and lesions on the face and hands that can spread to other parts of the body.

Most people recover within about two to four weeks without needing to be hospitalized.

How does monkeypox spread?

Monkeypox spread from animal to person through rodents, monkeys, squirrels, through either broken skin or bites or scratches from them, or through direct contact with an infected animal's blood body fluids or lesions.

It also spreads from person to person as well, but it is less common. 

It happens when you come in contact with airborne droplets when one person coughs or sneezes, it It requires prolonged face to face contact, or it can also happen through body fluids. 

And it is also speculated to be sexually transmitted from one person to another.

It can also come or spread by direct or indirect contact with materials contaminated with the virus, this can include clothing, bleeding, or other linens used by an infected person or animal.

Monkeypox diagnosis

Diagnosis is by tissue samples, which gives us the diagnosis treatment wise it is mostly self limited and is cured in two to three weeks’ time. It is in milder form, as I said of smallpox and, just by symptomatic management, it can be treated.

Can monkeypox be cured?

Dr. Rajesh Jaria, Consultant, Internal Medicine, P D Hinduja Hospital & Medical Research Centre, Khar said monkeypox is similar to chicken pox. The principle of vaccination originated from this family of viruses. Infection from chicken pox protected from the more dangerous small pox infection which almost always left a horrible permanent residual damage in the infected patient such as blindness, deafness, limb paralysis or permanent pock marks. Monkeypox is similar but can cause mortality of one in ten patients especially younger patients.




Sangeeta Ojha

Sangeeta is a Chief Content Producer at Livemint. Writes on personal finance, banking and real estate. She has over 12 years of experience as a journalist with television and digital media
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