What is monkey pox and how does it affect me in Sydney?

If you’re outside of this modern world, you may have heard whispers of the dreaded monkey pox, the latest zoonotic disease (meaning: transmitted from animals to humans) currently plaguing the proverbial planet. group chat Really, you might have a serious case of exotic disease fatigue and not want to know a bloody thing about this development, but considering the World Health Organization just declared it a global health emergency, it looks like maybe we should get to know this new kid a little better.

What’s all this monkey business, anyway?

In fact, monkey pox is not new at all. Scientists first detected this infectious poxvirus in a colony of Asiatic monkeys in Copenhagen in 1958, and it first appeared in a child in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is characterized by a pimple-like pustular rash in hard-to-see areas (for example, genitals, anal region and also on the face, arms and legs), fever, aches, headache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion . This virus, although it has a low fatality rate, is particularly dangerous for pregnant women, young children, the elderly, and the immunocompromised, as it causes secondary infections that have been fatal.

A younger and less lethal cousin of the smallpox virus, monkeypox has spread rapidly through central and western Africa since the 1970s, and is now endemic in ten African countries. African scientists have been warning about the dangers of monkeypox for years due to the plight of these nations, but unfortunately the West never gave this disease more credibility, if any. .

That is, until now.

should i worry

As with all things, panicking doesn’t help anyone. Monkey pox is not as infectious as Covid-19, as it is only transmitted through close physical skin-to-skin contact with someone who is symptomatic. Unlike respiratory diseases, it has been found to be spread through sex, direct contact with someone who is symptomatic, or contaminated clothing, bedding, or towels. As of July 2022, there have been 16,593 confirmed cases of monkeypox in 68 countries that had never previously reported monkeypox and five deaths. In NSW alone, 24 cases of monkeypox have been reported since 20 May 2022. According to global health experts, 99% of monkeypox cases reported outside Africa have been men, and 98% of these cases are sexually active gay men. and bisexual men. This virus has not been confirmed by scientists as a sexually transmitted disease, but it is clear that the virus is currently disproportionately affecting this group.

Does anyone do anything about it?

The WHO has declared a PHEIC (Public Health Emergency of International Interest), which is to legally mobilize international collaboration to deal with the spread. This is the highest alarm the WHO can raise for diseases (it’s happened with *you know* Ebola and polio, among others) and calls for better contact tracing, test numbers and measures of insulation to prevent them from being taken. root in the rest of the world in the same way as in Africa.

Wealthy countries, such as Australia, have scrambled to bolster supplies of the smallpox vaccine, which has been shown to be highly effective against the virus containing the same variants. With smallpox completely eradicated in 1980, people stopped getting the vaccine, a move that had dire consequences for people in central and west Africa who were exposed to monkeypox, and were no longer protected against it. The same is true of us in the West, but some countries have continued to keep a small supply of smallpox vaccine on hand, just in case. Scientists in Africa have expressed concern that they are being left behind in the vaccine frenzy in the West, even though they have suffered the most from the disease for more than four decades.

now what do i do

First, keep calm. Second, keep disinfected. Third, be aware of any symptoms you may have, get tested, and isolate until those symptoms are gone. And finally, just keep up to date with health advice from the authorities. If we’ve done it once, we can do it again folks.

All is not lost.

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