Monkeypox is an uncommon disease caused by a monkeypox virus infection. Monkeypox virus is a member of the Orthopoxvirus genus in the Poxviridae family. Variola virus (which causes smallpox), vaccinia virus (used in the smallpox vaccine), and cowpox virus are all members of the Orthopoxvirus genus.
Monkeypox was first found in 1958, when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in research colonies of monkeys, hence the name. During a period of increased effort to eradicate smallpox, the first human case of monkeypox was recorded in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 1970. Since then, monkeypox has been documented in humans in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, and Sierra Leone. Infections are most common in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Ghana Health Service reported its first five (5) cases of Monkey Pox in Ghana on May 24th 2022, says Dr. Patrick Kumah Aboagye, the Director General at a press briefing on Wednesday.
According to him, the regions where the cases reside are Western, Eastern and Greater Accra.
Monkeypox cases in people have occurred outside of Africa linked to international travel or imported animals, including cases in the United States, as well as Israel, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. The natural reservoir of monkeypox remains unknown. However, African rodents and non-human primates (like monkeys) may harbor the virus and infect people.
The illness begins with:
• Muscle aches
• Swollen lymph nodes
Within 1 to 3 days (sometimes longer) after the appearance of fever, the patient develops a rash, often beginning on the face then spreading to other parts of the body.
Lesions progress through the following stages before falling off:
The illness typically lasts for 2−4 weeks. In Africa, monkeypox has been shown to cause death in as many as 1 in 10 persons who contract the disease.
Monkeypox virus can spread when a person comes into contact with the virus from an infected animal, infected person, or materials contaminated with the virus. The virus can also cross the placenta from the mother to her fetus. Monkeypox virus may spread from animals to people through the bite or scratch of an infected animal, by handling wild game, or through the use of products made from infected animals. The virus may also spread through direct contact with body fluids or sores on an infected person or with materials that have touched body fluids or sores, such as clothing or linens.
Monkeypox spreads between people primarily through direct contact with infectious sores, scabs, or body fluids. It also can be spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact. Monkeypox can spread during intimate contact between people, including during sex, as well as activities like kissing, cuddling, or touching parts of the body with monkeypox sores. At this time, it is not known if monkeypox can spread through semen or vaginal fluids.
It is not yet known what animal maintains the virus in nature, although African rodents are suspected to play a part in monkeypox transmission to people.
There are number of measures that can be taken to prevent infection with monkeypox virus:
• Avoid contact with animals that could harbor the virus (including animals that are sick or that have been found dead in areas where monkeypox occurs).
• Avoid contact with any materials, such as bedding, that has been in contact with a sick animal.
• Isolate infected patients from others who could be at risk for infection.
• Practice good hand hygiene after contact with infected animals or humans. For example, washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Use personal protective equipment (PPE) when caring for patients.
Currently there is no specific treatment approved for monkeypox virus infections. However, antivirals developed for use in patients with smallpox may prove beneficial.