Biruni University Hospital Infectious Diseases and Microbiology Specialist Dr. Lecturer Müberra Hraloğlu, answered questions about the Monkeypox) virus disease, popularly known as monkeypox.
What Is Monkeypox Virus Disease?
In these days when we have just recovered from the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic and wish to spend the next summer period like the pre-pandemic period, the possibility of a new epidemic has put us all in a fearful wait. What is monkeypox virus disease? Is it a new and unknown disease like Covid-19? How is it transmitted and what complaints does it cause? Is there a cure and, most importantly, will it lead to a pandemic again? Questions like these have become topics that everyone is curious about and researched. As in all subjects, obtaining information from reliable sources is extremely important in terms of protecting psychological and physical health.
What Is Monkeypox Virus Disease?
Monkeypox virus is a DNA virus belonging to the orthotoxinsvirus genus, which also consists of variola virus, which causes smallpox; vaccinia virus used in smallpox vaccine, and cowpox virus, which causes cowpox.
Two different genetic subtypes, Central Africa (Congo Basin) and West Africa, are known to cause disease. It has been observed that the Central African type is reported more frequently and this type can also be transmitted from person to person. In the case of the West African type, this is not to be expected very much. In addition, the West African type has been observed to cause milder infection. Currently, the typing of viruses from cases outside Africa has not yet been completed, but initial findings indicate a West African subtype.
Monkeypox virus was first reported in 1959 as a smallpox-like disease seen in monkeys kept in a research laboratory in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was determined as a disease agent in humans in the 1970s. On September 1, 1970, the first case was identified in the Democratic Republic of the Congo when the virus was isolated in a 9-month-old boy with a smallpox-like disease.
Apart from monkeys, the infection occurs in squirrels, rats, rodents such as mice and prairie dogs.
How is Monkeypox Virus Disease Transmitted?
The monkey virus can be transmitted in two ways: from animal to human or from human to human. Direct or indirect contact with the bite, scratching or skin lesions or excretions of the infected animal are animal-to-human (zoonotic) ways of transmission. Contact with the respiratory tract droplets, body fluids, skin lesions, environment and belongings of the sick person are the ways of transmission between people. The virus enters healthy people through cracks in the skin, open tissues such as the mouth, nose, eyes, or the respiratory system.
What Are the Symptoms of Monkeypox Virus?
Symptoms of monkeypox begin to appear within 4-21 days after contact. For this reason, people who come into contact with it should be isolated for 21 days. The first symptoms are usually non-distinctive symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue, diffuse body aches, swelling in the lymph nodes and usually seen in the first 5 days of the disease. Following these symptoms, skin lesions begin to appear 1-3 days after the onset of fever. Lesions appear on the face, arms and legs rather than on the trunk. Lesions can be detected on the palms and foot plates, in the mouth, in the genital area and in the eyes. These skin lesions are similar in smallpox, chickenpox and measles, but monkeypox has swelling in the lymph nodes as distinctive. The disease process is usually 2-4 weeks. The disease is usually self-limiting, meaning that the disease heals on its own, but the disease can be severe in immunocompromised people. It can be severe by causing conditions such as pneumonia, sepsis, encephalitis and vision loss.
How is Monkeypox Virus Disease Diagnosed?
Clinical manifestations are important in the diagnosis of the disease. It should definitely be considered in people who have traveled with the findings mentioned above, especially those who have traveled to countries where monkeypox has been seen in the last 1 month. In this case, the diagnosis can be made by PCR method by transmitting the samples taken from the patient's body fluids to the relevant laboratories. Another method is antigen-antibody tests, which can give false positive results for reasons such as the previously administered smallpox vaccine.
How is Monkeypox Virus Treated?
Currently, there is no proven treatment method. As with many viral diseases, supportive therapy is important in treatment. Studies show that people who have been vaccinated against smallpox may also be protected against other orthotox viruses. Studies show that 90% of sick people have not had orthotox virus infection before. It has also been shown that 85% of people who have been vaccinated against smallpox virus are protected against monkeypox virus.
The infected person should remain in isolation, wear a surgical mask, and cover the lesions appropriately until the skin lesions dry out and the skin is renewed.