Experts say there is no likelihood of monkeypox causing a pandemic. So there is no need to panic. The disease has struck around a dozen non-endemic European countries and the US. Pakistan’s National Institute of Health has issued a countrywide high alert for the relevant authorities to take measures related to monkeypox. It has asked the officials concerned to launch a campaign to raise public awareness about the little-known illness caused by a virus usually found in animals like monkeys and African rodents. The virus transmits to humans through contacts with the mentioned animals. It is far less contagious than Covid-19. It enters the human body through open skin, respiratory tract, mouth and eyes. In human-to-human transmission of the monkeypox virus, it takes hours of contact with others to travel from an infected person to a healthy one. It does not transmit from one human to another, like while standing at a grocery store for a few minutes, as is the case with coronavirus. The monkeypox virus enters the human body mainly through animal bite. Patients developing monkeypox should be rushed to a specialist hospital.

So far 92 confirmed and 28 suspected cases have been reported from the UK, Spain, the US and Canada. These are regions where monkeypox is non-endemic. Central and West African countries are endemic to the disease. Experts are of the view that the monkeypox outbreak in non-endemic areas could be due to a surge in travel following the lifting of Covid-19 curbs. According to the WHO, the symptoms of monkeypox are: fever, rashes that start on the face and spread to the entire body, headache, muscle pain, exhaustion and lymphadenopathy. The illness lasts three to four weeks. Isolation and hygiene help in fast recovery of the patient. These measures also prevent healthy persons from infection. There is no vaccine available for monkeypox, though some Western experts say smallpox vaccines are 85% effective in preventing monkeypox. Some countries are reportedly stocking smallpox vaccines. Death rarely occurs from monkeypox.


Published in The Express Tribune, May 25th, 2022.

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