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Monkeypox has made headlines lately after outbreaks were reported across America, Europe and Australia. The disease is considered a potential threat to public health because it can affect anyone who comes into contact with an infected individual or material. Health experts say that it needs to be mitigated quickly to stop further spread.
Further, the outbreak of Monkeypox was recorded in areas where the virus is not endemic – this means that infected people have already gone to different places and may have infected other people, unbeknownst to them. In addition, this is happening amid new waves of COVID-19 variants causing major economic hubs to impose other lockdown protocols to limit the spread of the new variants.
According to a report by Our World in Data, there are already 346 confirmed cases in 22 countries –marking Monkeypox’s first community spread. The World Health Organization said in a statement that the virus mainly spread through sex, particularly in men having sex with other men.
WHO announced that anyone is at risk of contracting the virus – children, non-immunized individuals and pregnant women are considered high-risk individuals and should take extra precautions.
Health experts have found that smallpox vaccines are 85% effective against Monkeypox, meaning those who got the vaccine may no longer need additional vaccination.
However, WHO has stressed the importance of good hygiene and safe sex to stop this virus from spreading.
Protecting yourself from the virus
The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the U.K.’s National Health Service informed the public about possible ways to prevent contracting the virus:
- Avoid coming into contact with people recently diagnosed with the virus or those who may have been infected.
- Wear a face mask if you are in close contact with someone who has symptoms.
- Use condoms and keep an eye out for symptoms if you have recently changed sexual partners.
- Avoid coming into contact with animals that could be carrying the virus. This includes sick or dead animals and particularly those with a history of infection, such as monkeys, rodents and prairie dogs.
- Practice good hand hygiene, especially after coming into contact with infected — or suspected infected —animals or humans. For instance, wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Use personal protective equipment (PPE) when caring for patients with confirmed or suspected monkeypox infection.
- Only eat meat that has been cooked thoroughly.
What should you do if you get infected?
If infected, individuals may experience the following initial symptoms:
- Muscle aches
Within one to five days after infection, a patient will develop rashes and lesions on the face, feet, eyes, hands, mouth, or genitals. The rashes will become bumps and then blisters which may contain whitish fluid.
If you’re diagnosed with Monkeypox, isolation should be the first move. Most people recover from the virus within 2 to 4 weeks – patients are encouraged to isolate themselves within that period.
According to the National Health Service in the U.K., the best way and the safest is to see doctors in a specialist hospital.
Opinions expressed by US Insider contributors are their own.