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All about Monekypox, a smallpox virus found in the UK 

By Aditi Srivastava,

The first case of Monkeypox was reported from UK on May 7, 2022.

Monkeypox is a viral disease caused by the monkeypox virus, which belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus in the Poxviridae family. (Image: Twitter)

UK’s health agency, UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), confirmed a case of Monkeypox on 7th May. It is a virus that is transmitted from infected animals like rats to humans, and has been found in a person who has recently travelled to Nigeria. Media reports suggest that he is being treated in an isolation ward at London's St Thomas Hospital. In fact, the monkeypox virus was first detected in the United Kingdom in 2018, and health officials have confirmed a few of its cases since then. 

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), monkeypox is a condition caused by monkeypox virus, a member of the Orthopoxvirus genus in the family Poxviridae. Here’s what we know about it so far.  

What is Monkeypox? 
Monkeypox is a viral disease caused by the monkeypox virus, which belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus in the Poxviridae family. It is primarily spread to humans by wild animals such as rodents and primates. But it can also be passed on from person to person through lesions, respiratory droplets and body fluids. It is linked to diseases such as smallpox, cowpox, horsepox, and camelpox. Orthopoxvirus is a genus of viruses in the family Poxviridae and subfamily, Chordopoxvirinae. The most widely known member of the Orthopoxvirus genus is Variola virus, which caused smallpox until it was eradicated in 1980.  

The WHO further calls it a viral ’zoonotic’ illness, an infectious disease transmitted from one species to another, such as animals to humans. It mostly affects tropical rainforests in Central and West Africa and is occasionally found in other parts of the world. 

What are its symptoms? 
Fever, headache, chills, rashes, exhaustion and swollen lymph nodes are the main symptoms of patients affected by monkeypox. People living with this condition also experience skin eruptions, which occur within 1-3 days following the onset of fever. The rashes on the face are usually more intense. It affects the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, oral mucous membranes, genitalia and conjunctivae, as well as the cornea, according to the global health agency. The incubation period (time between infection and development of symptoms) for monkeypox is usually 6 to 13 days but can also range from 5 to 21 days. 

How can Monkeypox be treated? 
According to the World Health Organisation, there is presently no specific treatment for monkeypox. Smallpox vaccination has been determined to be 85 per cent efficient in preventing the disease. As a result, prior childhood smallpox vaccination is recommended to prevent major Monkeypox symptoms. 

When did the world’s first Monkeypox outbreak occur? 
Monkeypox has been reported in several other central and western African countries since the first human case was reported in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), including Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d'lvoire, Gabon, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, and Sierra Leone. 

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