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Home / Science / Health /  Rare Monkeypox virus found in US. All about this potentially serious illness

A rare case of monkeypox was detected in Texas, marking the first such cases recorded in the state, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said. The patient is a US resident who had returned from Nigeria a couple of days ago.

The person is currently hospitalized in isolation in Dallas. Government officials said the lone case of monkeypox is no cause for alarm and poses no threat to the general public.

What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals) with symptoms similar to those seen in the past in smallpox patients, although it is clinically less severe. With the eradication of smallpox in 1980 and subsequent cessation of smallpox vaccination, it has emerged as the most important orthopoxvirus. Monkeypox occurs in Central and West Africa, often in proximity to tropical rainforests.

Signs and symptoms of Monkeypox

  • Fever, intense headache, lymphadenopathy (swelling of the lymph nodes), back pain, myalgia (muscle aches) and an intense asthenia (lack of energy).
  • Lymphadenopathy is a distinctive feature of monkeypox compared to other diseases that may initially appear similar (chickenpox, measles, smallpox).
  • The skin eruption usually begins within 1-3 days of the appearance of fever.
  • The rash tends to be more concentrated on the face and extremities rather than on the trunk. It affects the face (in 95% of cases), and palms of the hands and soles of the feet (in 75% of cases). Also affected are oral mucous membranes (in 70% of cases), genitalia (30%), and conjunctivae (20%), as well as cornea.
  • The rash evolves sequentially from macules (lesions with a flat base) to papules (slightly raised firm lesions), vesicles (lesions filled with clear fluid), pustules (lesions filled with yellowish fluid), and crusts that dry up and fall off.
  • The number of lesions varies from a few to several thousand.
  • In severe cases, lesions can coalesce until large sections of skin slough off.

Transmission

Monkeypox is in the same family of viruses as smallpox but causes a milder infection. The virus spreads from person to person mainly through exposure to respiratory droplets, which can enter the body through mucous membranes in the eyes, mouth and nose.

In addition, monkeypox can also be transmitted when a person has contact with infected lesions or body fluids; indirectly, a person can catch monkeypox from contact with contaminated clothing or linens.

Treatment and vaccine

There is currently no specific treatment recommended for monkeypox. Vaccination against smallpox with the vaccinia vaccine was demonstrated through several observational studies to be about 85% effective in preventing monkeypox. Thus, prior childhood smallpox vaccination may result in a milder disease course.

However, at the present time, the original (first-generation) smallpox vaccines are no longer available to the general public. A newer vaccinia-based vaccine was approved for the prevention of smallpox and monkeypox in 2019 and is also not yet widely available in the public sector.

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