The rare monkeypox virus, usually confined to most of Central and West Africa, has spread in unusual ways this year and in populations that have not been weak in the past.
But while infections have caused some apprehension among officials and infectious disease specialists, and while a coward-weary world is on high alert for new outbreaks, there are several reasons why monkeypox is not being treated with the same level of concern as the coronavirus.
Here’s what you need to know about monkeypox and its risks.
What is a monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a virus endemic to parts of Central and West Africa. This is a more gentle version of smallpox.
It was discovered in 1958 after an outbreak of monkeys kept for research, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
What are the symptoms?
Monkeypox forms a rash that starts with a flattened red spot that grows and fills with pus. The victims will also have fever and body aches.
Symptoms usually appear within six to 13 days but may take up to three weeks after exposure. These can last up to two to four weeks, with more severe cases in children, according to the World Health Organization.
The CDC said there was “no proven, safe treatment” for monkeypox, but noted that the smallpox vaccine and other treatments could be used to control an outbreak in the United States.
How contagious is it?
This usually does not lead to a major outbreak – there are only a handful of cases outside of Africa each year, if any. The most serious outbreak in the United States occurred in 2003, when dozens of cases were associated with contact with infected prairie dogs and other pets. According to the World Health Organization, this is the first outbreak of monkeypox outside Africa.
In Africa, cases have been reported in 11 countries since 1970, when the first human case was detected in a 9-year-old boy in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Nigeria is facing a major outbreak, with more than 500 suspected cases and 200 confirmed cases since 2017, the WHO said.
The virus can be spread through body fluids, skin contact and respiratory tract infections. This year has been mostly about young men, many of whom have identified themselves as men who have sex with men.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said on Friday that “in most cases lesions are found in the genital or peri-genital area, indicating that the infection can occur during close physical contact during sexual activity.”
How many cases have been filed this year and where?
According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, there have been 38 cases worldwide as of Thursday this year, including 37 with no history of travel to local countries. Britain reported an additional 11 cases on Friday.
In the United States, the first case of 2022 was diagnosed on Wednesday in Massachusetts. The man recently traveled to Canada, which has had two lawsuits this year. New York City health authorities announced Thursday that they are investigating a possible case.
Europe has suffered a lot. As of Thursday, there were 17 cases in Portugal, seven in Spain, two in Belgium and one each in France, Italy and Sweden.
Nine cases were reported in Britain as of Thursday, but Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Friday that the number had risen to 20. The WHO said Thursday that the country’s infections appear to have been acquired locally, but that “the extent of local infections is unclear at this stage and more cases are likely to be identified.”
None of the infected people died, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
How is the current outbreak different?
According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, this is the first time that a chain of transmission has been reported in Europe without a link to West or Central Africa. The agency added that this was the first case reported this year Among men who have sex with men.
Should I worry?
The virus is more likely to be transmitted during sexual intercourse, but the risk of infection from other forms of intimate contact is lower, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
Symptoms are usually mild, and most people recover within a week, but the virus had a mortality rate of about 3.3 percent in Nigeria, where children, young people and immunocompromised individuals are most susceptible.