As Monkeypox cases rise around the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced earlier this week that the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee has convened over the spread of the Monkeypox virus to 32 non-endemic countries. In addition, on June 23, experts from the Global Health Agency assessed whether the ongoing outbreak is a Public Health Emergency or International Concern. This is the highest level of global warning, which currently only applies to the COVID-19 pandemic and polio.
Meanwhile, the WHO has also published recommendations for governments around the world regarding case detection and monitoring. To shed some light on the impact, potential causes, misconceptions and treatment of Monkeypox, Dr. Vikram Vora, medical director, International SOS with Financial Express.com and also stressed that countries must prepare to contain the spread of the virus.
Watch video | Individuals of all sexual orientations are equally susceptible to Monkeypox: Dr. Vikram Vora
According to the WHO, Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease with symptoms very similar to smallpox, although it is less severe clinically. Monkeypox is transmitted through close physical contact with someone who has symptoms.
Speaking about how Monkeypox is different from smallpox, Dr. Vora told Financial Express.com: “Although monkeypox and smallpox belong to the same viral family, there are subtle differences between the two. Some are subtle, others are not so subtle. Smallpox is a more serious and deadly disease. While Monkeypox is not so much. Monkeypox accounts for about 1-10 percent of the death rate in endemic countries, and that number has fallen by 3-6 percent. Smallpox had an 80 percent death rate when it was widespread. So that’s the fundamental difference.”
dr. Vora also told Financial Express.com that the Monkeypox virus spreads in two ways: animal-to-human and human-to-human. According to Dr. Vora can be transmitted from animals to humans by eating wild animals or handling infected animals.
“There is a lot of trade in animals in the world right now, whether it be domestic trade or wildlife, and the conditions under which these animals are transported can also affect local animals. Second, human contact can take place through close contact. Now close contact can be sexual contact or direct contact with the body fluids of an infected person. It can also happen through prolonged face-to-face contact. It can also happen through contact with an infected person’s clothing. These are the typical ways monkeypox spreads among humans,” said Dr. vora.
dr. Vora also stressed that in affected countries and countries where cases have not yet been reported, it is currently extremely important to contain the spread of the virus.
“The spread can be limited by continuously monitoring everyone entering the country, isolating known and suspected cases and, of course, contact tracing. It’s not a pandemic, so there’s still an opportunity to ensure countries that have reported the cases can contain the infection. For the countries where these cases have not yet been discovered, they need to disseminate credible information to the citizen, they need to start ramping up their preparedness plans, whether it is an endemic country or close to an endemic country. Airport surveillance, port surveillance must be done. Steps such as thermal imaging can help diagnose a potential case and immediately isolating the case can be a critical step in preventing the spread of infection. Most countries have already started taking these measures,” he added.
Speaking to Financial Express.com, it was also informed that global health authorities are investigating the possible causes of this current outbreak.
As to whether Monkeypox is a sexually transmitted disease, Dr. Vora: “Monopox is not a sexually transmitted disease. It is one of the root of transference that we see now. This may also have been before, just that the number of cases we studied were not Monkeypox’s lens because the outbreaks were minimal. There were short-lived outbreaks, at least outside endemic countries these outbreaks were not significant,” he said.
While the symptoms of the current outbreak are very similar to the previously reported outbreaks, there are some subtle differences. According to Dr. Vora, it takes a week to 10 days or sometimes three weeks for the virus to show the first symptoms.
“Once a person is infected, he develops a fever. Along with that fever, the person also develops severe body aches and extreme exhaustion. After two or three days, the fever begins to subside and a rash develops. This rash mainly develops on the arms and legs, the face, and on the genitals. This rash grows and becomes a papular rash and becomes clear fluid-filled blisters. After about two weeks, the lesions begin to dry out, and once this drying out begins, the disease is considered cured,” he explained.
Since the early days of the current outbreak, most cases of Monkeypox have been reported among people from gender-sexual minority communities. As to whether the current Monkeypox outbreak could create a pattern like an HIV-AIDS epidemic, Dr. Vora: “This outbreak can add to the stigma when it is not necessary and should be consciously avoided. It would be wrong to simply exclude an entire community based on a few cases. It would amount to an avoidable witch hunt and that is clearly not the intention. Current survival includes all communities. It’s too early to start explaining or even mentioning these things that could affect people’s minds.”
dr. Vora also said Monkeypox is a relatively mild disease and confirmation of suspected cases can only be done through a PCR test similar to the RT-PCR test of COVID-19. Monkeypox is a self-limiting disease and within 3-4 weeks an infected person can fully recover from the disease, he added.