In May 2022, cases of monkeypox were detected in various parts of Europe and North America, including the United Kingdom, Portugal, Spain, Canada and the United States.

FILE: The incubation period of the disease is five to twenty-one days, and symptoms usually last two to four weeks. Photo: © stockasso / 123rf.com

JOHANNESBURG – You’ve probably seen reports of Monekypox being discovered in Italy and Sweden and investigating cases in the United States and Canada. But what is it?

Monkeypox is a virus from the same family as smallpox. It was first documented in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the 1970s and came mainly from animal to human.

In May 2022, cases of monkeypox were detected in various parts of Europe and North America, including the United Kingdom, Portugal, Spain, Canada and the United States.

So far, two main strains of the virus have been identified: the Congo strain, which has a mortality rate of 10%, and the milder West African strain, which has a mortality rate of 1%. All recent cases in the UK have been West African.

What does it look like and how does it spread?

The virus can be identified by a characteristic rash and the presence of fever. Early symptoms include swollen lymph nodes and common flu symptoms such as headaches and lack of energy.

The incubation period of the disease is five to 21 days, and symptoms usually last two to four weeks.

While animal-to-human transmission is more common, human-to-human transmission is possible and occurs through contact with body fluids, injuries, respiratory drops, and contaminated materials.

The World Health Organization has said there is a link between sexual contact and the spread of the virus.

How is it treated?

There is currently no known specific treatment for monkeypox, but the smallpox vaccine has been shown to act to prevent the virus.

A new version of this monkeypox vaccine was approved in 2019, but according to the WHO, it is not widely available.

The spread is likely due to the easing of travel restrictions after COVID, and although experts say it won’t cause the same scale outbreak, it’s important to be vigilant and take it seriously so as not to escalate.

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