What is monkeypox and its signs and symptoms?

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Monkeypox: CDC is monitoring 6 people in US for possible rare infection, says public shouldn't be worried

Monkeypox is mainly found in west and central Africa, but in recent years additional cases have been observed in Europe, including the UK, and other parts of the world. These cases are usually related to international travel or imported animals infected with the smallpox, the CDC said.

On Thursday, Spain confirmed seven cases of monkeypox in Madrid and is investigating another 22; Italy confirmed its first case; and Canadian public health officials said they are investigating 17 suspected cases of monkeypox in Montreal.

Multiple cases of monkeypox in the UK among people who have contracted the disease no known travel or contact with others Health officials there and at the CDC are dealing with the virus, but there is no cause for alarm, said US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy on CNN’s “New Day” on Thursday.

“At this point, we don’t want people to be concerned,” Murthy said. “These numbers are still small; we want them to be aware of the symptoms and to contact their doctor if they have any concerns.”

What are the first symptoms of monkeypox?

According to the CDC, the incubation period is about seven to 14 days. Initial symptoms are typically flu-like, such as fever, chills, fatigue, headache, and muscle weakness, followed by swelling in the lymph nodes, which help the body fight infection and disease.

“One feature that distinguishes monkeypox infection from smallpox infection is the development of swollen lymph nodes,” the CDC said.

Next comes a widespread rash on the face and body, including the mouth and the palms and soles of the feet.

The painful, raised pox is pearly and fluid-filled, often surrounded by red circles. The lesions eventually crust over and resolve over a period of two to three weeks, the CDC said.

“Treatment is generally supportive as no specific medications are available. However, a vaccine is available that can be administered to prevent disease development,” said Jimmy Whitworth, professor of international public health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in a statement.

How is monkeypox transmitted?

According to experts, the spread of the monkeypox virus requires close contact with an infected person.

Infection can develop after contact with “ruptured skin, mucous membranes, respiratory droplets, infected body fluids or even contact with contaminated linen,” said Neil Mabbott, personal chair in immunopathology at the University of Edinburgh School of Veterinary Medicine in Scotland, in a statement.

“Once the lesions have healed, the scabs (possibly carrying infectious viruses) can be shed as dust that could be inhaled,” said Dr. Michael Skinner, who is at the Faculty of Medicine in the Department of Infectious Diseases at Imperial College London, in a statement.

Human-to-human transmission occurs primarily through large respiratory droplets, and because such droplets typically travel only a few feet, “prolonged face-to-face contact is required,” the CDC said.

This 2003 electron micrograph, provided by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions (left) and spherical immature virions (right) obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak.

“Monkeypox can be a serious infection, with other outbreaks having a fatality rate of about 1% from this type of monkeypox virus. These often occur in low-income settings with limited access to healthcare,” said Michael Head, senior research fellow in global health at the University of Southampton in the UK.

However, in the developed world, “it would be very unusual to see more than a handful of cases in an outbreak and we will not see (Covid) style transmission levels,” Head said in a statement.

According to the CDC, common household disinfectants can kill the monkeypox virus.

Where does monkey pox come from?

Monkeypox got its name in 1958 when “two outbreaks of a smallpox-like disease occurred in monkey colonies kept for research,” the CDC said.

However, the main disease vector of monkeypox is still unknown, although “African rodents are suspected to play a role in transmission,” the agency said.

The first known case of monkeypox in humans was “recorded in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970, during a period of intensified efforts to eradicate smallpox,” the CDC said.

After 40 years with no reported cases, monkeypox resurfaced in Nigeria in 2017, the CDC said. Since then, more than 450 cases have been reported in Nigeria and at least eight known cases have been exported internationally, the agency said.

An outbreak happened in the US in 2003 after forty-seven people in six states — Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin — became ill from contact with their prairie dogs, the CDC said.

“The pets became infected after being housed near imported small mammals from Ghana,” the CDC said. “This was the first time human monkeypox had been reported outside of Africa.”

CNN’s Michael Nedelman, Paula Newton, John Bonifield, Naomi Thomas, Alex Hardie, and Benjamin Brown contributed to this report.

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