In the past week, Colombia’s National Institute of Health has identified at least five cases in the country of the monkeypox virus infection currently propagating throughout the world. Two new cases in Bogotá were identified in Colombian men returning from Europe, and the third case has been identified in Medellín, again in a Colombian who has returned from Europe in recent days. This adds to the first two cases detected in Bogotá
The Monkeypox infection in humans has symptoms similar to smallpox and chickenpox, but is said to be less lethal than the deadly but eradicated smallpox. Monkeypox is related to smallpox, vaccinia, and cowpox, but is not closely related to chickenpox, which is caused by a type of herpes virus.
Neighboring Peru has 15 cases reported right now.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research. Despite being named “monkeypox”, the source of the disease remains unknown. However, African rodents and non-human primates (like monkeys) may harbor the virus and infect people.
The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970. Since then, monkeypox has been reported in people in several other central and western African countries. Prior to this current 2022 outbreak, nearly all monkeypox cases in people outside of Africa were linked to international travel to countries where the disease commonly occurs, or through imported animals.
The monkeypox virus belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus in the family Poxviridae. The Orthopoxvirus genus also includes variola virus (which causes smallpox), vaccinia virus (used in the smallpox vaccine), and cowpox virus.
It’s not clear how the people were exposed to monkeypox, but the CDC says that early data suggests that gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men make up a high number of cases. Nevertheless, anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk.
The Monkeypox virus can spread from person-to-person through:
- direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids
- respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex
- touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids
- pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta
- being scratched or bitten by an infected animal
- preparing meat or using body parts from an infected animal
Symptoms of monkeypox can include:
- Muscle aches and backache
- Swollen lymph nodes
- A rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.
- The rash goes through different stages before healing completely. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.
- Sometimes, people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.
Take the following steps to prevent getting monkeypox:
- Avoid close, skin to skin contact with the monkeypox rash.
- Do not touch the rash or scabs of person with monkeypox.
- Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
- Do not share eating utensils or cups.
- Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a sick person.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after contact with sick people.
- A person who is sick with monkeypox should isolate at home. If they have an active rash or other symptoms, they should be in a separate room or area from other family members and pets when possible.