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Monkeypox: Should Indians be Worried?

Overview

Following the global outbreak of Monkeypox, the World Health Organization has deemed it a public health emergency of global significance. Knowing more about Monkeypox and how it spreads is crucial in light of the increasing incidence of the disease worldwide. The rapidly increasing cases in India make people worry about the spread, and this blog addresses this concern.  

What is Monkeypox? 

Monkeypox is a rare illness, similar to smallpox, which causes rash and flu-like symptoms that continue for two to four weeks. Direct skin-to-skin contact between an infected person or animal transmits this disease. It may also spread through objects that infected people use. Despite the low death rates, they can have severe consequences and even be fatal in those with compromised immune systems. 

Monkeypox takes five to thirteen days to incubate, showing the initial signs such as fever, headache, fatigue, and backache. It is followed by rashes and vesicular lesions that resemble pimples. Once these have grown, they may become blisters that may burst with infectious yellowish pus-like liquid. These pustules start to dry out and fall off over a period of two to five weeks. Lymph node enlargement may be linked to the infection. 

The now available patient data demonstrates that in the current outbreak, the rash or blisters start and persist in a specific place, in or near the genital area. Due to this, the rash could not be noticeable and presented a surveillance challenge for authorities. 

How can Monkeypox be treated? 

Most individuals who get infected may recover on their own over a period of time. The doctors provide supportive treatment for the infection. The antiviral drugs that are available for the treatment of smallpox may also be effective against Monkeypox. 

Healthcare workers must examine Monkeypox patients while wearing complete PPE to stop the transmission of the disease. The patient’s blood, urine, and blister samples are tested  for DNA-PCR to identify the infection as soon as the patient becomes symptomatic. The patients usually recover in a month, but active isolation is necessary to reduce the likelihood of spread. 

Is there a need for Indians to worry? 

As mentioned above, the virus spreads through skin-to-skin contact, the transmission of contaminated bodily fluids, including saliva, sperm, and respiratory droplets, and contagions through rash and blisters, according to the existing evidence. As a result, the spread of infection is restricted to social networks and households where intimate contact is frequent and individuals with weak immune systems. 

While COVID-19 is caused by a virus, Monkeypox is not, and we have vaccines to combat it. COVID-19 is peculiar because it is a brand-new viral strain that spreads easily through the respiratory system, affects the lungs, and is lethal. Before they know they have it, some people may spread COVID-19, whereas Monkeypox is not particularly contagious throughout incubation.

Monkeypox only spreads after symptoms start showing, giving the virus a brief window of opportunity to spread. India has enough time to build up the necessary surveillance measures to halt the spread of infection because of this trait of the virus.  

There is no need to be excessively concerned about Monkeypox. It’s unlikely that it will spread worldwide, in contrast to the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, since we already have drugs and therapies to prevent the already low risk of aggressive infection. And of course, the Covid 19 outbreak has given the country enough knowledge and experience to deal with Monkeypox. 

How can one protect themselves from Monkeypox? 

Controlling the spread of Monkeypox is easy compared to other illnesses, including COVID-19 or SARS virus, because there are no known examples of asymptomatic carriers. PCR-based diagnostic kits for Monkeypox are not yet commercially accessible in India and, if widely used, could prove expensive. Therefore, a clinical diagnosis may be essential to halting an outbreak of Monkeypox in India. 

People who have travelled to countries where the outbreak was reported should proactively get tested and undertake necessary actions to prevent its spread. Similar is the case with people with symptoms such as rashes and blisters even though they haven’t travelled internationally. 

Conclusion 

The sudden outbreak of Monkeypox was indeed a shock to the world, which is still recovering from the damage caused by the  Covid 19 pandemic . But as WHO says, there is nothing to be excessively petrified about. India has fought a devastating disease like COVID-19, and all our experience in surveillance and treatment will help the country surpass all hurdles put forth by Monkeypox. But as a community, it is important to avoid jumping to conclusions by seeking advice from inauthentic sources in the  internet and spreading fear. Adequate precautions and care can help all overcome fear and the disease.  

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