Health officials are advising the public to avoid any manipulation with sick or dead animals and their secretions as a monkeypox outbreak has struck Mbomou prefecture in southern Central African Republic (CAR).
According to the Ministry of Public Health, at least two deaths have been reported leaving a number of other people quarantined. The health ministry says they have the situation under control; however, they call for vigilance. Ms. Margueritte Maliévo Samba said, “I call all the Central African population in general and that of the Prefecture of Mbomou especially for calm and strict respect for preventive measures that were to wash hands regularly, avoid any manipulation with sick or dead animals and secretions of infected person and objects.”
This is the 3rd time monkeypox has been reported in CAR. Previously it was seen in Mbomou in 2001 and two years ago in Haute Kotto.
Monkeypox is a relatively rare disease caused by the virus with the same name, which is found primarily in central and western Africa.
It is closely related to the smallpox virus (variola), the virus used in the smallpox vaccine (vaccinia), and the cowpox virus.
Infection with monkeypox is not as serious as its cousin, smallpox; however, human deaths have been attributed to monkeypox.
According to the CDC, the symptoms of monkeypox are as follows: About 12 days after people are infected with the virus, they will get a fever, headache, muscle aches, and backache; their lymph nodes will swell; and they will feel tired. One to 3 days (or longer) after the fever starts, they will get a rash. This rash develops into raised bumps filled with fluid and often starts on the face and spreads, but it can start on other parts of the body too. The bumps go through several stages before they get crusty, scab over, and fall off. The illness usually lasts for 2 to 4 weeks.
Rodents, such as rope squirrels, door mice and pouched rats, are the suspected reservoir hosts, with monkeys and humans as secondary, spill-over hosts.
People at risk for monkeypox are those who get bitten by an infected animal or if you have contact with the animal’s rash, blood or body fluids. It can also be transmitted person to person through respiratory or direct contact and contact with contaminated bedding or clothing.
There is no specific treatment for monkeypox.
Robert Herriman is a microbiologist, Editor-in-Chief of Outbreak News Today and host of the talk radio program, Outbreak News This Week
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