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Monkeypox Can Be Transmitted Through Secretions Produced By Coughing Or Sneezing: Dr. Sheela Murali Chakravarthy, Fortis Hospital

In an exclusive interview with BW Businessworld, Dr Sheela Murali Chakravarthy, Director- Internal Medicine, Fortis Hospital, Karnataka talks about the Monkeypox outbreak and how we can protect ourselves

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How worried should we be about the Monkeypox outbreak?
Monkeypox is a type of orthopox virus that is related to smallpox which started with the monkeys of central and western Africa, spreading the infection to rodents and then onto humans. Incidentally, the first person diagnosed with Monkeypox travelled from India to Southeast Asia. Although this was not the first case detected in India, the number of cases is expected to rise, as more than 3,000 cases have been discovered in the United States.

How does it spread?
Once infected, transmission occurs from human to human. A person in contact with someone with open lesions for an extended period of time, in the form of physical contact such as hugging, kissing, holding hands, or sexual contact is at high risk of contracting Monkeypox. However, it can also be transmitted through secretions produced by coughing or sneezing, especially during the incubation period.

The incubation period for the monkeypox virus ranges from one to 21 days in a majority of patients. Initially, fever sets in, which might stay for 12 days, and then a rash develops. It might begin inside the mouth, on the tongue, moving to the face, and onto different parts of the body. The presentation is usually centrifugal, and this type of distribution is very typical of Monkeypox.

What are the symptoms?
One of the most distinguishing features is a large number of lymph nodes, particularly around the tonsillar region.

It is quite like any other virus, with patients typically experiencing fever, body aches, and extreme tiredness. The presence of a rash is the most telling sign and is quite deep in comparison with other rashes. When these lesions are fully mature, they leave a very deep scar on the face or any other part of the body, which can eventually be treated by dermatologists.

How can we protect ourselves from this virus? 
To care for ourselves during this period, given that we know that transmission takes place through close contact with people, identify high-risk individuals, especially people who have recently travelled from Africa, Central Africa, or the United States, as most people in these high-risk countries found themselves with a fever, rash, or large lymph nodes.

Alternatively, one can always send a small piece of tissue, for a PCR, also known as a polymerase chain reaction test, to confirm the diagnosis. Antibody levels can also be checked. Identify such a group of people and have them isolated as a first step to avoid in-person contact and transmission.

Is there a vaccine for it? How do we protect ourselves from it?
Once determined, the patient must be reported to the epidemiologist to determine the need and urgency of going to the hospital to confirm the diagnosis.

To protect ourselves, masks should be worn not only for Covid but also as a measure against Monkeypox viruses, which can spread through respiratory secretions.

Fact 1: The virus is associated with smallpox.

Fact 2: Infection-causing animals are mostly found in the tropical rainforests.

Fact 3: The infection spreads from animals to humans. However, once infected, transmission takes place from one human to another.

Fact 4: Symptoms of the viral disease may appear after 21 days.

Fact 5: In most cases, the disease is self-limiting.

Fact 6: There is no vaccine available against the Monkeypox virus.

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monkeypox Monkeypox virus virus smallpox