Monkeypox , Causes, Symptoms, vaccines and Preventive Measures
Written by admin on August 3, 2022
Monkeypox is a viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals) with symptoms similar to those seen in the past in smallpox patients, although it is clinically less severe.
Monkeypox primarily occurs in central and west Africa, often in proximity to tropical rainforests, and has been increasingly appearing in urban areas. Animal hosts include a range of rodents and non-human primates.
There are two distinct genetic clades of the monkeypox virus: the central African (Congo Basin) clade and the west African clade.
The Congo Basin clade has historically caused more severe disease and was thought to be more transmissible. The geographical division between the two clades has so far been in Cameroon, the only country where both virus clades have been found.
Various animal species have been identified as susceptible to monkeypox virus. This includes rope squirrels, tree squirrels, Gambian pouched rats, dormice, non-human primates and other species. Uncertainty remains on the natural history of monkeypox virus and further studies are needed to identify the exact reservoir(s) and how virus circulation is maintained in nature.
Since 2017, Nigeria has experienced a large outbreak, with over 500 suspected cases and over 200 confirmed cases and a case fatality ratio of approximately 3%. Cases continue to be reported until today that more three cases were reported in Gombe State.
Animal-to-human (zoonotic) transmission can occur from direct contact with the blood, bodily fluids, or cutaneous or mucosal lesions of infected animals.
In Africa, evidence of monkeypox virus infection has been found in many animals including rope squirrels, tree squirrels, Gambian pouched rats, dormice, different species of monkeys and others. The natural reservoir of monkeypox has not yet been identified, though rodents are the most likely.
Eating inadequately cooked meat and other animal products of infected animals is a possible risk factor. People living in or near forested areas may have indirect or low-level exposure to infected animals.
Human-to-human transmission can result from close contact with respiratory secretions, skin lesions of an infected person or recently contaminated objects.
Transmission via droplet respiratory particles usually requires prolonged face-to-face contact, which puts health workers, household members and other close contacts of active cases at greater risk.
While close physical contact is a well-known risk factor for transmission, it is unclear at this time if monkeypox can be transmitted specifically through sexual transmission routes. Studies are needed to better understand this risk.
Signs and symptoms
The incubation period (interval from infection to onset of symptoms) of monkeypox is usually from 6 to 13 days but can range from 5 to 21 days.
The infection can be divided into two periods:
The invasion period (lasts between 0–5 days) characterized by fever, intense headache, lymphadenopathy (swelling of the lymph nodes), back pain, myalgia (muscle aches) and intense asthenia (lack of energy). Lymphadenopathy is a distinctive feature of monkeypox compared to other diseases that may initially appear similar (chickenpox, measles, smallpox).
The skin eruption usually begins within 1–3 days of appearance of fever. The rash tends to be more concentrated on the face and extremities rather than on the trunk.
It affects the face (in 95% of cases), and palms of the hands and soles of the feet (in 75% of cases). Also affected are oral mucous membranes (in 70% of cases), genitalia (30%), and conjunctivae (20%), as well as the cornea. The rash evolves sequentially from macules (lesions with a flat base) to papules (slightly raised firm lesions), vesicles (lesions filled with clear fluid), pustules (lesions filled with yellowish fluid), and crusts which dry up and fall off.
The number of lesions varies from a few to several thousand. In severe cases, lesions can coalesce until large sections of skin slough off.
Monkeypox is usually a self-limited disease with the symptoms lasting from 2 to 4 weeks. Severe cases occur more commonly among children and are related to the extent of virus exposure, patient health status and nature of complications. Underlying immune deficiencies may lead to worse outcomes.
Although vaccination against smallpox was protective in the past, today persons younger than 40 to 50 years of age (depending on the country) may be more susceptible to monkeypox
Clinical care for monkeypox should be fully optimized to alleviate symptoms, manage complications and prevent long-term sequelae. Patients should be offered fluids and food to maintain adequate nutritional status. Secondary bacterial infections should be treated as indicated. An antiviral agent known as tecovirimat that was developed for smallpox was licensed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for monkeypox in 2022 based on data in animal and human studies. It is not yet widely available.
If used for patient care, tecovirimat should ideally be monitored in a clinical research context with prospective data collection.
Vaccination against smallpox was demonstrated through several observational studies to be about 85% effective in preventing monkeypox. Thus, prior smallpox vaccination may result in milder illness. Evidence of prior vaccination against smallpox can usually be found as a scar on the upper arm. At the present time, the original (first-generation) smallpox vaccines are no longer available to the general public. Some laboratory personnel or health workers may have received a more recent smallpox vaccine to protect them in the event of exposure to orthopoxviruses in the workplace. A still newer vaccine based on a modified attenuated vaccinia virus (Ankara strain) was approved for the prevention of monkeypox in 2019. This is a two-dose vaccine for which availability remains limited.
Raising awareness of risk factors and educating people about the measures they can take to reduce exposure to the virus is the main prevention strategy for monkeypox.
- Reducing the risk of human-to-human transmission
- Reducing the risk of zoonotic transmission
- Preventing monkey pox through restrictions on animal trade