Physician's Weekly
July 8, 2022
Monkeypox – An overview and update

Q: Any updates on monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a viral illness first discovered in monkeys over six decades ago. It was first diagnosed in humans in 1970. Since early May 2022, there have been over 5,800 confirmed cases in more than 51 countries where it is not endemic (i.e a country where it is normally found). While it does not readily spread between people, human-to-human transmission is strongly suspected to be the cause of the majority of these cases. Symptoms are normally mild and self-limiting.

Existing smallpox vaccines are very effective against monkeypox. Up to now, there has been one fatality as a result of the over 5,800 infections. In nearly all instances there have been no travel linkages between those diagnosed with monkeypox to areas where it is endemic.

The WHO expects the number of confirmed cases of monkeypox to increase over the coming weeks as public health officials across the world step up their surveillance.

Those at greatest risk of contracting monkeypox

  • Those in very close physical contact with someone who has an active infection.
  • Persons who work in health care facilities, especially cleaners.

How is it spread?

  • Via coughing/ sneezing.
  • Through skin-to-skin contact.
  • Coming into contact with an infected person’s clothes, towels, and bedding.

How does it enter the body?

Through:

  • Broken skin.
  • The respiratory tract.
  • Eyes, nose, and mouth.

Symptoms and signs of monkeypox

These generally appear within 6-13 days after initial exposure, but in some instances, they may take up to 21 days to develop:

  • Chickenpox-like rash (i.e. blisters initially filled with fluid which subsequently ulcerate and crust over) on the skin, usually starts on the face.
  • High fever.
  • Headache.
  • Generalized aches/ pains.
  • Swollen lymph glands.
  • Extreme tiredness.
  • Nausea.
  • Coughing with or without shortness of breath.

Period of Contagiousness

From the day the first symptom develops until all the scabs have fallen off. A person can be contagious for up to 4-5 weeks.

Those at highest risk for severe disease

Although in the vast majority of instances monkeypox is self-limiting and completely resolves without complications, however, certain groups may experience severe infections. These include:

  •  Children.
  • Pregnant women.
  • Those who are immunocompromised, either as a result of illness or medications.
  • Persons with pre-existing lung disease.
  • Those with eczema.

Treatment/ Prevention

  • All suspected cases should be isolated until the scabs have dropped off, skin lesions and normal skin has formed underneath.
  • All suspected cases must be reported to the relevant authorities in the ministry of health.
  • Hand sanitization and or frequent hand washing.
  • Covering of mouth and nose when sneezing and or coughing.
  • Sanitization of surfaces and doorknobs.
  • Wearing a facemask in public spaces.
  • Paracetamol may be taken for the fever and pain.
  • The original smallpox vaccine is 85% effective in preventing monkeypox and is being administered to healthcare workers and persons with early monkeypox-like symptoms in countries where monkeypox has been reported.
  • Antiviral and immunoglobulin treatment may be administered where available.

Author: Dr. C. Malcolm Grant – Family Physician, c/o Family Care Clinic, Arnos Vale, www.familycaresvg.com, [email protected], 1(784)570-9300 (Office), 1(784)455-0376 (WhatsApp)
Disclaimer: The information provided in the above article is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you are seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. Dr. C. Malcolm Grant, Family Care Clinic or The Searchlight Newspaper or their associates, respectively, are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information provided above.