Dr Karthiyayini Mahadevan, Head, Wellness and Wellbeing at Columbia Pacific Communities
Monkeypox is an infectious viral disease transmitted from monkeys. This disease was first identified among lab monkeys in 1958. The first human case to be reported was in 1970 in Africa. Since then, there have been many occurrences of monkeypox in African countries. The first outbreak outside Africa was in 2003 in the United States of America caused due to infected pet Prairie dogs. There have been a series of outbreaks in different parts of Europe as well.
Scenario in India
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), until June 2022 there were no cases from India. The first case of monkeypox in WHO South-East Asia Region was reported in a 35-year-old man who arrived from the Middle East in early July. The Indian Government has been taking precautionary measures and creating awareness to avoid a possible outbreak.
How does one identify and what are the symptoms to look out for?
This viral disease has an incubation period from 5-21 days. The clinical symptoms manifest as generalised exhaustion, body ache, fever with chills, sore throat, cough and enlarged lymph nodes. Specific symptoms occur in stages of rashes presented as:
Stage -1: Macule – The rash starts as red spots and lasts for 1-2 days.
Stage-2: Papule – The rash becomes hard and become bumpy. This can be seen for 2-3 days
Stage-3: Vesicle – Lesion become bigger, resembling an umbilicated blister filled with clear fluid and lasts for 1-2 days.
Stage-4: Pustule – Blisters get filled with pus and this condition can last for 5-7 days
Painful rashes occur on the limbs, face and genitals until they form a scab and fall off.
Are there any precautions one can take to prevent infection and if infected, stop the spread of the disease?
Unfortunately, rashes appear once fever reduces. The infective period is 2-3 days before the onset of rash. If one person in the family or community is affected, they can infect many during this prodromal phase before the rash appears.
But if the affected person strictly follows preventive measures such as wearing a mask, sanitising hands and maintaining social distance, then the chances of spreading infection become less.
After getting monkeypox, the affected person can transmit the virus through nasal secretions and open rashes. Isolation, till the rashes heal and fall off, is the only way to prevent the spread of this disease.
In any illness there are two main factors one needs to understand and work with – the infecting agent and the host. It is essential to know about the virus and isolate oneself. Immunity plays a vital role in preventing any infection. Eating well-balanced and nutritive food, getting adequate rest and following an exercise regime can boost the immune system.
Senior adults have a waning immune system as part of ageing. Hence, sticking to strict COVID norms and following rhythms in diet, sleep and activity will protect them from getting infected.
Stay safe and respond well.
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