What is MonkeyPox and why is it causing a scare worldwide?

Monkeypox is an uncommon disease and has raised concerns worldwide after multiple cases were detected in European countries recently. The monkeypox outbreaks mostly occur in endemic countries in west and central Africa and typically cause fever, chills, rash, and lesions on the face or genitals. 

Nigeria reports about 3,000 monkeypox cases a year and outbreaks are usually in rural areas when people have close contact with infected rats and squirrels.

WHO estimates the disease is fatal for up to one in 10 people and it has been proven historically that vaccination against smallpox is protective against monkeypox too. While one vaccine MVA-BN and one specific treatment, tecovirimat, were approved for monkeypox, in 2019 and 2022 respectively, these countermeasures are not yet widely available.

As per US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anyone “can spread monkeypox through contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores, or shared items that have been contaminated with fluids or sores of a person with monkeypox”.

Belgium has become the first country to introduce compulsory monkeypox quarantine and anyone testing positive must be isolated for 21 days, though no one has died of the viral outbreak to date.
Experts believe that a number of factors including increased global travel as well as climate change have accelerated the emergence and spread of viruses.

The WHO said it will provide further guidance and recommendations in coming days for countries on how to mitigate the spread of the disease. The UN agency is also working to provide guidance to protect frontline health care providers and other health workers who may be at risk such as cleaners.

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