Monkeypox: Symptoms to watch out for, precautions and treatments

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According to the World Health Organisation, Monkeypox is a zoonotic disease caused by the virus belonging to the family of viruses same as that of smallpox and is endemic to central and western African countries, though outbreaks have been reported in the non-endemic countries periodically.

The main symptoms of the disease are fever and characterised by an extensive characteristic rash and usually swollen lymph nodes.

However, according to recent research conducted across 16 countries, led by researchers at the Queen Mary University of London, the findings of which have been reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers said that during the current outbreak, some new symptoms have been reported.

The symptoms include single genital lesions and sores on the mouth or anus, which have not been described so far, they added.

While 95% of the confirmed cases had a skin rash almost two-thirds had less than 10 lesions on their skin, the researchers wrote in their paper.

Additionally, 73% had lesions in their anus (anogenital region) and 41% had mucosal lesions  (with 54 having a single genital lesion), they added.

These new symptoms have the potential of being misdiagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis, the researchers further noted.

According to the information provided by WHO, the incubation period of monkeypox can range from 5 to 21 days.

Fever accompanied by intense headache, swelling of the lymph nodes, back pain, muscle pain, and an intense lack of energy usually lasts for 1 to 3 days.

This is usually followed by eruptions on the skin and lasts between two to four weeks, which usually can be those with a flat base, raised painful lesions filled with clear fluid or pus which can turn into scabs or crusts when they dry up.

While most of the time, outbreaks occur from humans coming in close contact with infected animals or their excreta, the human-to-human transmission usually takes place through close skin contact or contaminated materials like bed linen etc.

However, some studies have shown that under laboratory controlled environment, the monkeypox virus can potentially remain infectious for long periods of time in the environment.

Current treatment mainly constitutes of managing the symptoms, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that antivirals such as tecovirimat, may be recommended for people who are more likely to get severely ill, like patients with weakened immune systems.


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