The world was having a sigh of relief after having vaccinated a majority of the population. The leaders felt it would act as a guard against the new spread through a decent level of herd immunity.

And they were right in assuming so!

Until we found that there is another pandemic on its way to cause havoc in an already covid wrecked world.

And it is none other than Monkey Pox!

But is Monkey Pox a new disease?

No, it is not a new disease. It was already found in some African Countries and got its name back in 1958.

Human Monkeypox was first identified in 1970 in a 9-month-old boy in a region where Smallpox was eradicated shortly before the first Monkeypox case. [1]

That is why you may have seen a lot of research correlating the symptoms of Smallpox and Monkeypox.

So, how similar or different are both from each other?

Monkeypox and Smallpox have no major difference in the way they symptomize. Both are zoonotic diseases that may spread from animals to humans, with symptoms varying from headache to fever to blisters.

The only two significant differences are the Incubation period and different sizes of blisters.

In cases of Smallpox, the incubation period is slightly lesser, and the blisters are small. Whereas in Monkeypox, the incubation period ranges from 5 to 21 days. [2]

We can also spot the major symptom difference between both endemics through the swollen lymph nodes. In cases of Monkeypox, you will usually see an enlargement of nodes and glands.

But why is it spreading now?

Well! This question has no clear answer. Investigations are going on. Researchers, too, are not leaving any stone unturned in finding the transmission clue.

But, there are a lot of factors to be considered now. According to epidemiologists, the topmost concerning factor is a dodged immunity due to covid 19 outbreak. So probably, a compromised overall immunity by covid makes us susceptible to other viruses. [3]

How can I spot the Pox? What are the Symptoms?

Yes, that is the right question to ask as the world has already witnessed 16000 cases of Monkeypox till now.

So, Monkeypox spreads in different ways depending on person to person. The most common symptoms are headaches, Muscle aches, backache, chills, exhaustion, and, most importantly, a rash.

What kind of rash?

A rash that looks like blisters may appear on your mouth, face, chest, and other body parts.

The illness mostly lasts anywhere from two to four weeks and gets cured by itself in most cases. However, in some cases, the pox may lead to swelling and pain in lymph nodes.

What are the transmission modes?

The transmission modes primarily are – Clothes, droplets, cough, and physical touch.

Since the transmission also occurs from animals to humans, we must be cautious.

Squirrels, rodents, and American pet Prairie dogs are the major transmitters among animals. [4]

Who are at the most risk?

So far, the risk factors are the same as the covid. People with severe co-morbidities, children, and pregnant women are most at risk. [5]

And what about Gay stigmatization?

Yeah, many theories have popped up stating Male to Male sex (MSM) is one of the factors responsible for transmission. And we cannot deny this, as scientists, experts, and WHO have made the statements. [6]

But, at the same time, let us understand that any physical or sexual contact between homo or heterogeneous couples can be responsible for the transmission.

So, a thorough understanding of sexual contact and its relation with the spread will help us contain the spread better.

So, what is the major theory behind the Pox?

As discussed, for now, it is the lower immunity levels due to covid – making us susceptible to similar viruses. But, in the long run, Monkeypox has spread through, of course – Human carelessness.

What we see as a worldwide zoonotic transmission started when humans tried to manipulate nature by moving rodents 1000 kilometers away from their natural habitat for exotic pet pleasure. [7]

What is the Mortality Rate?

The mortality rate in most parts of the world is around 1%. However, for central Africa, the mortality rate is a concerning 10%. [8]

The mortality for sure is not near the covid levels. But precautions need to be taken.

So, what can we do to contain the spread?

According to experts, smallpox vaccination offers 85% cross-protection against Monkeypox. However, those under 45 years would not have received the vaccines.

So, what can be done?

Medicines like Tecovirimat, known to treat poxes, can be stocked up. Risk communications messages are also a must for a better public understanding.

Has Monkeypox been declared a Public Health Emergency?

Yes!

Despite a low mortality rate, it has been declared a public health emergency.

Covid, after all, was a cautionary tale of how complacency in healthcare can cost millions of lives. Therefore, an early PHE declaration in the case of Monkeypox will serve the best interests through proper surveillance and tracking. [9]

So, the big task is – to reassure the public that the PHE is nowhere in the same league as Covid while also ensuring appropriate behavior through risk communication.

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