What is monkeypox or Mpox
Monkeypox (now called Mpox) is an infectious disease caused by the Monkeypox virus (MPXV). It can cause a painful rash, enlarged lymph nodes and fever. Most people fully recover, but some can get very sick.
Who may experience severe outcomes from the Monkeypox virus?
Monkeypox can cause a range of signs and symptoms. While some people have mild symptoms, others may develop more serious symptoms and need care in a health facility. Those at higher risk for severe disease or complications include people who are pregnant, children and persons that are immunocompromised.
What are the symptoms of Mpox?
Mpox can cause a range of signs and symptoms. While some people have mild disease, others may develop more serious illness and may require care in a health facility. Those at higher risk for severe disease or complications include pregnant women, children and persons who are immunocompromised.
Symptoms usually begin within a week but can start 1–21 days after exposure. Symptoms typically last 2–4 weeks but may last longer in persons that are immunocompromised.
Common symptoms of Mpox are:
- sore throat
- muscle aches
- back pain
- low energy
- swollen lymph nodes.
For some persons, the first symptom of Mpox is a rash, while others may have different symptoms first.
The rash can be found in the following areas
- on the face,
- palms of the hands,
- soles of the feet,
- groin, and genital and/or anal regions of the body.
The number of lesions can range from one to several hundred. Lesions begin flat, then fill with liquid before they crust over, dry up and fall off, with a fresh layer of skin forming underneath. People with Mpox are infectious and can pass the disease onto others until all sores have healed and a new layer of skin has formed.
How long do the symptoms last?
Symptoms typically last two (2) to three (3) weeks and usually go away on their own or with supportive care, such as medication for pain or fever.
How long can infected person remain infectious?
We are still learning about how long people with monkeypox are infectious for, but generally they are considered infectious until all of their lesions have crusted over, the scabs have fallen off and a new layer of skin has formed underneath.
How does monkeypox spread from animals to humans?
Monkeypox can spread to people when they come into physical contact with an infected animal. Animal hosts include rodents and primates.
How does monkeypox spread from person to person?
Close Contact: Monkeypox spreads from person to person through close contact with someone who has a monkeypox rash, including through face-to-face, skin-to-skin, mouth-to-mouth or mouth-to-skin contact, including sexual contact.
Possible mechanisms of transmission through the air for monkeypox are not yet well understood and studies are underway to learn more.
Contaminated Spaces: Environments can become contaminated with the monkeypox virus, for example when an infectious person touches clothing, bedding, towels, objects, electronics and surfaces. Someone else who touches these items can then become infected.
It is also possible to become infected from breathing in skin flakes or virus from clothing, bedding or towels.
What’s the risk to pregnant women and infants/children?
The virus can also spread from someone who is pregnant to the foetus, after birth through skin-to-skin contact, or from a parent with monkeypox to an infant or child during close contact.
Can someone have monkeypox and be asymptomatic?
Although asymptomatic infection has been reported, it is not clear whether people without any symptoms can spread the disease or whether it can spread through other bodily fluids. Research is underway to find out more.
Can people get seriously ill from monkeypox?
In most cases, the symptoms of monkeypox go away on their own within a few weeks. However, in some people, an infection can lead to medical complications and even death. Newborn babies, children and people with underlying immune deficiencies may be at risk of more serious symptoms and death from monkeypox.
What are some complications caused by monkeypox?
Complications from monkeypox include secondary skin infections, pneumonia, confusion, and eye problems.
What is the death rate for monkeypox?
In the past, between 1% to 10% of people with monkeypox have died. It is important to note that death rates in different settings may differ due to a number of factors, such as access to health care. These figures may be an overestimate because surveillance for monkeypox has generally been limited in the past.
Who is at risk at contracting monkeypox?
People who live with or have close contact (including sexual contact) with someone who has monkeypox, or who has regular contact with animals who could be infected, are most at risk.
Newborn infants, young children and people with underlying immune deficiencies may be at risk of more serious symptoms, and in rare cases, death from monkeypox.
Are health workers at risk of contracting monkeypox?
Yes. However, health workers should follow infection prevention and control measures to protect themselves while caring for monkeypox patients
How can Mpox be prevented?
To avoid contracting the Mpox virus persons should continue to follow the general hygiene principles such as
- Frequent handwashing
- Cleaning and Sanitising of high-touch surfaces
- Avoid contact with persons who are suspected or confirmed to have the Mpox virus
To prevent spread of Mpox to others, persons with Mpox should isolate at home, or in hospital if needed, for the duration of the infectious period (from onset of symptoms until lesions have healed and scabs fall off).
Covering lesions and wearing a medical mask when in the presence of others may help prevent spread. Using condoms during sex will help reduce the risk getting Mpox but will not prevent spread from skin-to-skin or mouth-to-skin contact.
What should I do if I think I may have monkeypox symptoms or have been exposed to someone who has monkeypox?
If you have had close contact with someone who has monkeypox or an environment that may have been contaminated with the virus, you should:
- monitor yourself closely for signs and symptoms for 21 days after the time you were last exposed.
- Limit close contact with other people as much as you can, and when it is unavoidable let your contact know that you have been exposed to monkeypox.
- Contact your healthcare provider for advice, testing and medical care. Until you receive your test result, isolate yourself from others if possible.
- Clean your hands regularly.
If you suspect you have monkeypox or been exposed to someone with monkeypox, you should contact your nearest health facility.
If I have monekypox, what should I do to protect other people from getting infected?
If you have monkeypox, your healthcare provider will advise if you should be cared for in hospital or at home. This will depend on how serious your symptoms are, whether you have risk factors that put you at risk for more serious symptoms, and whether you can minimize the risk of infecting anyone you live with.
If you are advised to isolate at home, you should not go out. Protect others you live with as much as possible by:
- Isolating in a separate room
- Using a separate bathroom, or cleaning after each use
- Cleaning frequently touched surfaces with soap and water and a household disinfectant and avoiding sweeping/vacuuming (this might disturb virus particles and cause others to become infected)
- Using separate utensils, towels, bedding and electronics
- Doing your own laundry (lift bedding, clothes and towels carefully without shaking them, put materials in a plastic bag before carrying it to the washing machine and wash them with hot water > 60 degrees)
- Opening windows for good ventilation
- Encouraging everyone in the house to clean their hands regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
If you cannot avoid being in the same room as someone else or having close contact with another person while isolating at home, then do your best to limit their risk by:
- Avoiding touching each other
- Cleaning your hands often
- Covering your rash with clothing or bandages
- Opening windows throughout the home
- Ensuring you and anyone in the room with you wear well-fitting medical masks
- Maintaining at least 1 meter of distance.
- If you cannot do your own laundry and someone else needs to do it for you, they should wear a well-fitting medical mask, disposable gloves and take the laundry precautions listed above.
Is there a vaccine against monkeypox?
Yes, a vaccine was recently approved for preventing monkeypox.
- Only people who are at risk (for example someone who has been a close contact of someone who has monkeypox) should be considered for vaccination.
- Mass vaccination is not recommended at this time.
How effective is the smallpox vaccine against monkeypox?
While the smallpox vaccine was shown to be protective against monkeypox in the past, current data on the effectiveness of newer smallpox/monkeypox vaccines in the prevention of monkeypox in clinical practice and in field settings are limited. Studying the use of vaccines for monkeypox wherever they are used will allow for rapid generation of additional information on the effectiveness of these vaccines in different settings.
What is the treatment for people with Mpox?
People with Mpox should follow the advice of their health care provider. Symptoms normally resolve on their own without the need for treatment. If needed, medication for pain (analgesics) and fever (antipyretics) can be used to relieve some symptoms.
Additionally, if you are being treated for Mpox:
- Persons must stay hydrated, eat well, and get enough sleep.
- Persons with Mpox should avoid scratching their skin and take care of their rash by cleaning their hands before and after touching lesions and keeping skin dry and uncovered (unless they are unavoidably in a room with someone else, in which case they should cover it with clothing or a bandage until they are able to isolate again).
- Persons should keep their rashes clean with sterilised water or antiseptic. Saltwater rinses can be used for lesions in the mouth, and warm baths with baking soda and Epsom salts can help with lesions on the body.
Have there been any medical developments for the treatment of monkeypox?
Many years of research on therapeutics for smallpox have led to development of products that may also be useful for treating monkeypox. An antiviral that was developed to treat smallpox (tecovirimat) was approved in January 2022 by the European Medicines Agency for the treatment of monkeypox.
Experience with these therapeutics in the context of an outbreak of monkeypox is limited. For this reason, their use is usually accompanied by collection of information that will improve knowledge on how best to use them in future.
Can children get monkeypox?
Children can catch monkeypox if they have close contact with someone who has symptoms. Data from previously affected countries show that children are typically more prone to severe disease than adolescents and adults.
Have any children been infected with monkeypox with the recent outbreak?
Yes, worldwide there have been a small number of children with monkeypox in the current outbreak.
However, there have not been any confirmed cases of the monkeypox virus in Trinidad and Tobago thus far.