Monkeypox infection is a zoonotic (affects animal and man) viral disease that occurs primarily in remote villages of Central and West Africa in proximity to tropical rainforests where there is more frequent contact with infected animals. In Africa, monkeypox infection has been found in many animal species: rope squirrels, tree squirrels, Gambian rats, striped mice, dormice and primates.
Human monkeypox was first identified in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then known as Zaire) in a 9 year old boy in a region where smallpox had been eliminated in 1968. Since then, the majority of cases have been reported in rural, rainforest regions of the Congo Basin and Western Africa, particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it is considered to be endemic.
From 1970 to date the following countries in Africa have experienced outbreaks of Monkeypox infection in human population: DR Congo, Republic of Congo, Sudan, Central Africa Republic and Nigeria. Thus the disease is indigenous to Central and West Africa with the African rat as the reserviour of infection.
An outbreak that occurred in the United States in 2003 was traced to a pet store where imported Gambian pouched rats were sold.
Monkeypox infection mainly affects animals: rodents (rats) as said earlier but it is usually transmitted to human population from infected rodents, pets particularly dogs and primates through direct contact with the blood, body fluids, or cutaneous or mucosal lesions of infected animals.
Human to human transmission (secondary transmission) occurs primarily via droplet (respiratory particles) usually requiring prolonged face-to-face contact, which puts household members of active cases at greater risk of infection.
Human-to-human transmission can result from close contact with respiratory tract secretions, skin lesions of an infected person or objects recently contaminated by patient fluids or lesion materials.
Transmission can also occur by inoculation or via the placenta (congenital monkeypox).
Eating inadequately cooked meat of infected animals is another possible way of the spread of the disease to human.
You can avoid Monkeypox infection if you do as below:
1. Avoid contact with persons infected with Monkey pox
Close physical contact with monkeypox infected people should be avoided.
During human monkeypox outbreaks, close contact with other patients is the most significant risk factor for monkeypox virus infection. In the absence of specific treatment or vaccine, the only way to reduce infection in people is by raising awareness of the risk factors and educating people about the measures they can take to reduce exposure to the virus.
2. Handle materials used by infected persons with caution
Beddings, clothes, handkerchiefs and any other materials used by the infected person must be decontaminated or burnt. They can only be handled with hand gloves.
3. Cook all your meat very thoroughly
Cook all animal products (blood, meat) thoroughly before eating.
Bush meat must be thoroughly cooked before eating. By bush meat we mean the meat of antelopes, porcupines, monkeys, squirrels, rabbits and rats. All meat including cow and pig meat must be thoroughly cooked before eating it. Also avoid handling of uncooked meat.
4. Practice hand hygiene.
Regular hand washing should be carried out after caring for or visiting sick people.
Avoid unnecessary handshakes, hugging and kissing on the cheeks; you never know who has the disease. Always wash your hands with soap and water after an outing, after a visit to a hospital/clinic, after handshake with someone you are not comfortable with or after using the toilet (1 or 2) or after touching uncooked food.
5. If a health worker, treat Monkey pox patients with caution.
On individual basis, if you are a health worker, handle patients infected with Monkeypox virus with extreme precaution—use of gloves, mask, appropriate overalls, boots and goggles are essential when taking care of infected people
The body of the dead patient should be handled the same way.
6. If you a pet owner; be extra vigilant
If you own, be vigilant always, watch out for any sign of illness. Register with a vet clinic and report suspicious cases.
Infected animals should be isolated from other animals and placed into immediate quarantine. Any animals that might have come into contact with an infected animal should be quarantined, handled with standard precautions and observed for monkeypox symptoms for 30 days.
7. If a farm worker/hunter/animal handler, handle animals with caution.
If you are any of the above, handle animals with gloves and appropriate protective clothing.
Contact with bush animals should be restricted especially without gloves even if you are a hunter. Gloves and other appropriate protective clothing should be worn while handling sick animals or their infected tissues and during slaughtering procedures.