The Dangerous Monkey Pox Virus: How to Protect Yourself and Your Family
If you’ve never heard of Monkey Pox, that may change in the near future. So what is monkeypox? Where does it come from? Why is it dangerous? And how can you protect yourself and your family? Let’s find out.
What is monkeypox?
The monkeypox virus is not nearly as widespread or deadly as Ebola, but if you’re exposed it can make you very sick. In fact, most people who contract monkeypox recover without any serious complications—but for those whose immune systems are weakened, it can be a serious issue. Fortunately, there are treatments available. Let’s take a look at how monkeypox occurs, how it’s treated, and what you should do if you think you have contracted it. To understand how monkeypox works, we first need to know more about its origins. Unlike Ebola, which has been in existence for centuries (and even thousands of years), monkeypox is actually quite new.
Where does it come from?
The monkeypox virus is transmitted via infected saliva, urine, feces, blood, or bodily fluids. It can be spread through direct contact with infected animals (including humans), as well as inanimate objects (such as bedding) that have been contaminated with bodily fluids. The primary mode of transmission is thought to be between monkeys and apes; however, it has also been seen in domesticated dogs and cats—and there is a very small risk that human-to-human transmission could occur. How do you know if you’ve been exposed?: Symptoms typically appear within 10 days after exposure but may take up to three weeks to develop. The initial symptoms are fever, headache, and muscle aches; however, these symptoms are usually mild and may go unnoticed. As time progresses, a rash will appear on your face and body—typically on areas where there is friction from clothing such as underarms or armpits. This rash will eventually begin to blister before crusting over into scabs.
What are the symptoms?
Monkeypox disease is an infectious viral illness in humans. Although primarily transmitted through contact with an infected animal, human-to-human transmission can occur. The virus causes fever, rash, lymphadenopathy (swollen glands), conjunctivitis (red eyes), muscle aches, headache, malaise, itching, and a vesicular rash (similar to chickenpox). The incubation period is between seven and 17 days. Like smallpox, monkeypox disease is preventable with vaccination. However, there are no licensed vaccines available for general use. At present, monkeypox disease is only administered to individuals at high risk of exposure during an outbreak or who have been exposed during travel in areas where there has been an outbreak.
Is there a cure?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for monkeypox. It can take a couple of weeks for symptoms to start, so it’s important that you remain alert in order to catch any monkey pox signs early on. That way, you can treat them effectively—and you may avoid more serious health issues later on. As with most diseases, prevention is key. You should always wash your hands before eating or touching your face; never handle wild animals; make sure all your vaccinations are up-to-date and keep an eye out for any signs of illness. If you do get sick, see a doctor immediately; even if it turns out not to be monkeypox, you’ll want to address whatever illness has taken hold as soon as possible.
Treatments, medication, and home remedies
The best way to protect yourself from monkeypox is prevention. The virus can spread easily among humans—but it’s highly unlikely that you’ll contract it if you follow these precautions: Make sure all your vaccinations are up-to-date, wear gloves and goggles when handling animals (particularly monkeys), and cover cuts or abrasions with bandages, wash your hands often with soap, avoid touching your mouth or eyes after coming into contact with an infected animal. If you do develop symptoms of monkeypox, don’t touch anyone until you’ve washed your hands thoroughly. If someone in your family does come down with a case of monkeypox, make sure he stays home for at least five days so he doesn’t pass on his infection to others. And keep in mind that doctors still don’t know much about how to treat monkeypox; treatment usually consists of supportive care and medication for symptoms like fever and aches.
First aid kit checklist
Every home should have a well-stocked first-aid kit, just in case. What do you include? Most of these items can be found in your local pharmacy or online. Allergy medication/EpiPen (for those with allergies)
Antibiotic ointment (Neosporin)
Antibiotic cream (Bactroban)
Aspirin/Acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain relief
Bandages in assorted sizes, including butterfly bandages and gauze pads for larger wounds that require covering. Also, make sure to include some medical tape.
Prevention and protecting yourself
Since there is no vaccine for monkeypox, it’s important to take as many precautions as possible. If you are in a country where monkeypox has been reported, avoid contact with any primates or anyone that has had direct contact with them. If you do come into contact with monkeys, wash your hands thoroughly after interacting with them. It’s also important to be aware of any rashes on your body; if you notice one, see a doctor immediately. You should also stay up-to-date on all immunizations—especially if you plan on traveling outside of North America or Europe anytime soon.