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Monkeypox: all you need to know about this new epidemic

Let's be careful with the information and especially aware that there will always be diseases in the world and panic will not solve anything.

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First of all, keep yourself well informed and don’t panic!

Like any other viral disease, the chances of it becoming an epidemic are there. But experts believe that this time it is a matter of paying attention. It is a disease that can cause a lot of inconveniences, it is true, but it is unlikely to become anything like the pandemic of COVID-19. There should be no reason to panic, as this version of the disease is already known to be much less lethal than the smallpox version, a disease that was eradicated in 1980.

This disease is being stigmatized by the fact that most cases have been identified in gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) Community men. But in fact, the contagion happens more by proximity. For example the fact of sleeping in the same bed or room, sharing a towel, or some other object of personal hygiene. So, it is not necessarily a sexually transmitted disease. Straight people can also get infected. But the good news is that this virus does not spread so easily.

According to the WHO, for contagion to occur, it requires “very close physical contact to allow the virus to enter the body”. This can be through broken skin; the eyes, nose, or mouth; and as a result of contact with the injuries, body fluids, or respiratory droplets of infected people. It can also be contracted through “prolonged contact with infected people’s contaminated goods, such as clothing, bedding, and towels”.

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Symptoms:

  • They usually start to appear between the 6th and 13th day after contamination. It can take up to 21 days for them to appear.
  • The main symptom is the appearance of an evolving rash that develops from vesicles into blisters. Patients presenting with lesions on their genitals and anus.
  • The other symptoms that usually appear are fever, muscle aches, chills, exhaustion, headaches, a sore throat, or swollen, painful lymph nodes.
  • Symptoms usually resolve by themselves after about 14–21 days.

Treatment:

  • Some people may require antibiotics and analgesia to treat secondary infections and local pain.
  • It was identified that the smallpox vaccine has also been demonstrated to provide protection.

Risk groups:

  • MSM (Men who have sex with men) – although it is important to stress that monkeypox can affect anyone.
  • Healthcare workers.
  • Commercial sex workers.
  • Household members and other close contacts of active cases, such as sexual partners.
  • Pregnant women.
  • Young children.
  • Individuals who are immunocompromised.

Precautions to stop possible transmission to others in case you suspect you have the disease:

  • If you have an unusual lesion or rash, consult your doctor or healthcare provider straight away.
  • Try not to touch the lesions or rash as this could spread the disease.
  • Wash any bedding or belongings of an infected person that you may have come into contact with.
  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Avoid close physical contact, including sexual contact with others.
  • Anyone that has suspected, probable, or confirmed monkeypox symptoms should isolate as much as possible until the symptoms have resolved.
  • In particular, keep isolated from pregnant women, young children, and immunocompromised people to protect them from infection.

It is understandable that for those who have lived in recent years in fear of COVID, hearing that a new disease is spreading can seem like yet another announcement of chaos. Let’s be careful with the information and especially aware that there will always be diseases in the world and panic will not solve anything. We all have to do our part, trying to live healthier and strengthen our immunity. Importantly, we need to retain the peace of mind that will keep us calm enough to face any adversity. Peace and health to you all.

About the author  /  Marcelo Lopes

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