Monkeypox: Why did WHO declare it as a global emergency? Here’s everything you need to know about the outbreak.
Monkeypox outbreak: monkeypox may cause blisters that can infect others upon contact
When and how did monkeypox emerge?
Unlike what many think, monkeypox is not a new disease. The first case of monkeypox in a human was recorded in 1970. Monkeypox is a virus that might be transmitted by monkeys or rodents. However, unlike what the name suggests, monkeypox in most cases spreads through intimate contact among humans.
The first case of monkeypox in India this year was recorded in Kerala this month. Although monkeypox has similar but milder symptoms as compared to smallpox, it is a contagious disease. Since it first was discovered in Kerala, there has been a total of 4 cases in India.
As the number of cases stays low, it is important for us to take necessary preventive measures. WHO declared monkeypox to be a global emergency on the 23rd of July this year. Just a day after, the 4th case was reported in Delhi. This has caused a lot of chaos and worries among the masses.
What is the status of monkeypox cases around the world?
Since monkeypox was first discovered, there have been few cases throughout the years globally. However, this year there has been an increase in the number of patients recorded since May 2022. As per WHO (World Health Organisation), there have been a total of 16,000 cases reported since the spike in May this year. At the moment, most cases have been reported in Europe and North America.
Why is it a global concern?
Monkeypox unlike covid-19 and many other transmissible diseases is not airborne and usually mild and rarely fatal. However, it is contagious and may still result in various symptoms that might show for up to 1-2 weeks.
The WHO has declared it a global emergency due to many other reasons. For one, about 75 countries across the globe have reported an increase in monkeypox cases. As of now, there have been 4 deaths reported in Africa.
Besides being highly contagious, tests to identify monkeypox are difficult. There have been 4 cases of monkeypox recorded in India in the last two months. However, many cases might go undetected due to the challenges being faced with testing.
Is there misinformation?
Due to its name, monkeypox may lead many to believe it spreads through monkeys and other non-human primates. Although there is a possibility, due to lack of contact, that may not be the case as we witness this outbreak. Many may assume limiting contact with monkeys and other animals may reduce their risk of monkeypox but that is not correct.
As the recent cases are being studied, monkeypox is seen transmitting through human-to-human contact. Although, much research show monkeypox may spread through sexual activity. Intimate contact with someone suffering from monkeypox may put you at higher risk than being around someone who is infected with monkeypox. In either case, it is ideal to take the right preventive measures.
Should we be worried?
As WHO declares the monkeypox outbreak to be a global emergency, there has been a significant spread of worry and misinformation. As per the recent cases reported, one may be infected with monkeypox through skin-to-skin touch, semen, respiratory droplets, saliva, blisters, or rashes.
Monkeypox lasts 1-2 weeks and has milder symptoms as comma-red to smallpox. However, prevention is better than cure. Declaring monkeypox as a global emergency can help contain it before it turns into a pandemic.
With India having reported 4 cases since the monkeypox outbreak took place in May this year, it is important to stay careful. Being educated on the symptoms, cases, updates, etc. can help you better understand this condition.
What preventive measures can we take?
We must try and prevent monkeypox. There are various ways through which you can prevent or lower your risk of catching monkeypox. Here are some preventive measures you must keep in mind moving forward.
1. Strictly avoid contact with someone that might have symptoms that are more unique to monkeypox. Symptoms such as rashes, blisters, scabs, etc.
2. Avoid sharing belongings with someone suffering from monkeypox.
3. Make sure to regularly wash your hands throughout the day and always carry a sanitiser with you.
4. Do not come in close contact with someone with monkeypox. As discussed, your chances may be increased if engaged intimately. However, close contact can also result in the transmission of the virus.
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.