The rising monkeypox cases in several European nations and North America have sparked major concerns about its rapid spread. The viral zoonotic disease is transmitted to humans through close contact with an infected person or animal, or with material contaminated with the virus. Similar to now eradicated small pox, the disease is known as self-limiting which means the symptoms resolve on their own between 14-21 days. The common symptoms of monkeypox are common cold and flu-like symptoms, fever or exhaustion, headache, backache, muscle pain, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue among others and are considered milder than small pox. (Also read: What is monkeypox and how it spreads; know symptoms from expert)
According to WHO, the infection can be divided into two periods, the invasion period and skin eruption.
While the invasion period typically lasts between 0–5 days characterized by fever, intense headache, swelling of the lymph nodes, back pain, muscle aches and lack of energy. The skin eruption period begins with 1-3 years of onset of fever.
How monkeypox rash progresses
According to Dr Subhash Kakkar, ENT Sr. Surgeon, founder of Kakkar ENT Clinic, visiting consultant with BL Kapur hospital and Apollo Spectra, it (skin eruption) begins with red rashes all over the body mainly on the face and the limbs, leading to bumps developing on the skin gradually filled with clear or milky type fluid.
Dr Kakkar says the lesion can then dry or rupture the vesicle hinting at scab formation on the skin.
“When the scab falls there can be pitted scars leading to lighter or darker skin discoloration,” he adds.
“The whole process can take up to 2-4 weeks. Though a patient infected can transmit the disease from 1 day before to 21 days after the first symptom(s) or scab falls are detected,” says the expert.
“Patients with monkeypox present with fever, headache and swellings due to enlarged lymph nodes. The rash generally appears a day or two after the onset of fever starting from the face which then spreads to the lower parts of the body. The rash appears in a distribution which is away from the center of the body (described as centrifugal distribution). The skin lesions may be few or many in number. A typical rash evolves from a red, flat spot which then becomes raised and then goes on to develop clear fluid within the rash. This fluid filled lesion (vesicle) develops a central depression. Pus can form within the lesions which then crust and heal. There may be many lesions in different stages of evolution,” says Dr Subodh Sirur, consultant dermatologist, Masina Hospital.
⁃ Hand hygiene is the most important part of prevention
⁃ Do not consume undercooked meat
⁃ Avoid contact with infected animals
⁃ Avoid contact with infected material (beddings and linens) of the patients positive for this virus.
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