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What is the cause of monkeypox?

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Monkeypox is caused by the monkeypox virus that belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genes of the Poxviridae family. It is a rare type of disease that causes infection. It was in 1958 that the disease was discovered first. A pox-like disease broke out in colonies of monkeys that were kept for research purposes. In 1970 the first case of the disease was identified in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was discovered during a time when intense efforts were being put in to get small pox eliminated. After this the disease has been reported in humans living in other western and central African nations. In the year 2003 the disease was documented outside Africa, in the United States.

It is yet not known where the natural reservoir of Monkeypox is. However, rodent species in African are expected to play a big role in transmitting Monkeypox.

West African and Central African are the two distinct genetic groups of the Monkeypox virus. The West African Monkeypox is limited to transmission from human-to-human and associated with a milder disease form and fewer deaths.

Initial symptoms of Monkeypox include exhaustion, fever, chills, backache, headache, pain in the muscles and headache. Lymph nodes swell leading to a condition called lymphadenopathy. Seven to fourteen days is the incubation period for Monkeypox, however it can range anywhere from five to twenty one days. After the appearance of fever and within a period of 1-3 days or more the person develops rash first on the face and the rest of the body parts. The lesions formed progress as macules, then papules, then vesicles, then pustules and then scabs. Monkeypox lasts for 2-4 weeks.

To treat infection from the Monkeypox virus, there is no safe and proven treatment. However outbreak of the disease can be controlled by administering VIG – Vaccinia Immune Globulin, antivirals and small pox vaccine.

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