What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare virus that is typically transmitted from animals to humans. Documented human infections occurred mostly in areas of Central and West Africa near rainforests. Human cases outside of Africa are extremely rare.
The Monkeypox virus is very similar to the human smallpox virus but causes less severe symptoms.
What are the Symptoms of Monkeypox?
The symptoms of Monkeypox usually begin 6-14 days (ranges between 5 up to 21 days) after infection by the virus.
Initial symptoms (first 5 days) include fever, headaches, muscle aches (myalgia), fatigue and swollen lymph nodes.
Within 1-3 days
Within 1-3 days of the onset of fever, a skin rash develops, usually starting from the face then spreading to the body.
Next 1.5 weeks or so
Over the course of the next 1.5 weeks or so, the rash develops from flat reddish bumps (maculopapular) to fluid filled tiny blisters (vesicles) which enlarge to become pustular, before eventually crusting and healing.
The rash can involve the palms and soles of the feet, oral mucosa and the eyes as well.
The total illness duration ranges between 2-3 weeks.
Image from CDC Public Health Image Library
Image from CDC Public Health Image Library
Is the Infection Serious?
Monkeypox is generally a self-limiting illness and symptoms fully resolve by themselves by 21 days. Treatment for monkeypox is supportive until the illness runs its course.
However, serious complications such as pneumonia (lung infection) and encephalitis (brain inflammation) can occur.
The severity of symptoms may differ between patients and more serious illnesses have been seen in younger patients, with a mortality rate between 1-10%.
How is it spread?
Monkeypox is transmitted from animals to humans through bites, scratches, consumption of bushmeat, or through direct contact with the blood/fluid/bodies of infected animals.
Human-to-human transmission is possible through respiratory droplets or physical contact with body fluids/rash, or contaminated surfaces or materials.
The virus enters the body through the respiratory tract, mucous membranes, and broken skin.
Infected individuals are contagious from the onset of fever until their skin lesions have crusted over completely.
What is the Situation in Singapore?
On 8 May 2019, MOH confirmed the first case of imported Monkeypox infection in Singapore. The patient is a 38-year-old Nigerian male who may have contracted the virus in Nigeria through the consumption of bushmeat.
He arrived in Singapore on 28 April 2019 and subsequently developed a fever and rash on 30 April. He was hospitalised on 7 May and confirmed to have the infection and currently warded at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID). His condition is stable.
MOH is in the midst of contact tracing. Close contacts have been referred to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) for further assessment and will be quarantined for 21 days. Low-risk contacts will be kept under surveillance to monitor their health status.
When Should I be Concerned about Monkeypox?
If you develop a fever and vesicular rash AND have travelled to West or Central Africa within the last 21 days OR have been in contact with an infected person within the last 21 days, there is a high suspicion of monkeypox and you should see a doctor immediately.
Otherwise, there is no need for unnecessary panic as all necessary steps to control the situation are already being taken.
PRECAUTIONS TO TAKE WHEN TRAVELLING TO AREAS AFFECTED BY MONKEYPOX IN CENTRAL AND WESTERN AFRICA
• Maintain a high standard of personal hygiene, including frequent hand washing after going to the toilet, or when hands are soiled.
• Avoid direct contact with skin lesions of infected living or dead persons or animals, as well as objects that may have become contaminated with infectious fluids, such as soiled clothing or linens (e.g. bedding or towels) used by an infected person.
• Avoid contact with wild animals, and consumption of bushmeat.
• Returning travellers from areas affected by monkeypox should seek immediate medical attention if they develop any disease symptoms (e.g. sudden onset of high fever, swollen lymph nodes and rash) within three weeks of their return. They should inform their doctor of their recent travel history
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