Monkeypox – Beware of Close Contact
Monkeypox is unfamiliar, but life-threatening disease. It can spread directly through touching, from animal to human such as rodent, squirrel, monkey, and from human to human who have close contact with monkeypox patient. The first case was in Middle and West of Africa, then the disease spreads to other continents. Even symptoms of monkeypox are similar to smallpox, but monkeypox is less contagious and fatal than smallpox considerably.
How Does Monkeypox Spread?
Monkeypox is caused by DNA virus named monkeypox. This virus is under Orthopoxvirus group which is a same group of smallpox. It was discovered in animal and it can spread from animal to human through touching, and as detailed below.
- From animal to human through touching fluids or wounds of infected animals, eating undercooked meat.
- From human to human through touching droplet respiratory particle of patients or items contaminated with secretions, patients’ wounds such as clothes; the disease mostly spread in MSM (men who have sex with men).
Is monkeypox a sexually transmitted disease?
It is not confirmed that monkeypox is a sexually transmitted disease. However, there are many cases found among MSM (men who have sex with men) lately. Monkeypox rash appears at the genitals or near the genitals, so monkeypox is assumed to be a sexually transmitted disease, or spreads from skin-to-skin contact during sex.
Who is at Risk of Having Monkeypox?
If anyone is concerned of having the risk, please check details below.
- Those who live or travel to monkeypox outbreak area such as countries in Africa
- Those who have close contact with infected animals or patients
- Medical personnel
- Researchers related to monkeypox virus
- Those who live with infected patients
- Those who have sex with infected patients
- Those who live close to forest with high chance to have contact with infected animals
Symptoms of Monkeypox
After getting monkeypox, symptoms will appear in 6 – 13 days or 21 days (incubation period). There are 2 stages of the symptoms.
- Infection stage: Monkeypox patients have fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes which is different from chickenpox or smallpox. This stage might take 5 days.
- Rash stage appearing within 3 days: After having fever, patients have macules. Then, they will become papules, vesicles, pustules and scabs. The rash often appears on face, arms, legs, palms, soles, as well as in the mouth and the genitals, etc. It can cause pink eye too.
Moreover, patients with weak immune systems have to be aware of the disease because if they have the disease, they might get severe conditions. The patients at risk are HIV patients, leukemia patients, cancer patients, organ transplant recipients, children younger than 8 years old, and patients with weak immune systems such as patients who receive immunosuppressant medication, pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers.
Treatment for Monkeypox
There is no specific treatment or vaccination for monkeypox. However, the outbreak can be controlled by smallpox vaccination which is 85% effective. Treatments are as follows.
- In case of not receiving treatment, monkeypox patients will recover by themselves within 2 – 4 weeks.
- Treatment for monkeypox lesions based on suggestions of World Health Organization
- Avoid scratching skin
- Keep skin dry and uncovered to avoid recurrent infections
- Wash hands with soap or alcohol before and after touching rash
- Clean rash with sterilized water or antiseptic
- Avoid covering rash
- Meet physicians if rash is painful, swollen or pus-filled.
Monkeypox Prevention in Thailand
Everybody has to be concerned about health and daily life to prevent and mitigate risk of having monkeypox based on simple ways as follows.
- Avoid touching infected animals, and carriers especially monkeys and rodents
- Regularly wash hands with soap or alcohol gel especially after touching animals or public items
- Avoid touching fluids, wounds, blood, lymph of animals
- Wear a mask when travelling to area with outbreak risk
- Avoid touching fluids, wounds, blister or pus of those who are at risk of having the infection; in case of touching, you should get vaccination within 14 days (from data as of 6 June 2022, there is no vaccination in Thailand).
Monkeypox is a communicable disease under surveillance in Thailand. It easily spreads from touching pus, blister or fluids of infected patients. Therefore, we should take care of ourselves and keep ourselves clean to reduce risk of having the disease.
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Sources: Data retrieved on 8/11/2023
🔖 ThaiHealth, data as of 15/08/2023
🔖 Samitivej Hospital, data as of 8/06/2023
🔖 ThaiPBS, data as of 8/09/2023