Over the last few months, news about the increase in monkeypox cases has spread around the world. Few people understand that it has been around for a long time.
“Monkeypox was first identified in 1958 with a group of research monkeys, which is why they call it monkeypox,” said Robert Niezgoda, visiting assistant professor of public health and sports medicine at Missouri State University.
“The first human case was recorded in 1970 with cases periodically after that.”
Monkeypox is considered a DNA virus and comes from the orthopox virus family. That’s the same virus family that causes smallpox.
Considered a zoonotic disease, monkeypox can be transmitted from animal to human and vice versa. Humans can spread the disease through direct contact.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there are currently 19,962 confirmed monkeypox cases in the U.S., and currently 55 cases in Missouri.
Effects of monkeypox
Though very similar to smallpox, monkeypox is said to cause less severe symptoms.
“There are different strains of monkeypox, and the strain circulating is on the milder side,” Niezgoda said. “In terms of case fatality rate, it is on the low end which is a good sign.”
Most people first identify monkeypox by the rash it causes all over the body.
Other symptoms of monkeypox include:
- Swollen lymph nodes.
- Muscle aches and backaches.
Mitigating the illness
“In May of 2020, the CDC launched an emergency response to monkeypox,” Niezgoda said.
“This includes educating the public, expanding laboratory testing and outlining prevention strategies.”
Currently, no treatments exist specifically for monkeypox. Since monkeypox and smallpox viruses are genetically similar, antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox may prevent and treat monkeypox infections.
The CDC also purchased a large amount of the monkeypox vaccine for those who may be worried about contracting the virus.
If you think you may have been exposed to the monkeypox virus, call your doctor and local health department.