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Monkeypox: The next pandemic?

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  • Monkeypox declared a global public health emergency by World Health Organisation (WHO), July 2022
  • Around 35,000 confirmed cases and 12 deaths linked to the outbreak so far
  • First case of human to canine infection reported

 

Monkeypox, a less severe form of smallpox, has been hitting the headlines recently as cases increase across the globe.

Prior to this year, outbreaks have been relatively small since the virus was first identified in 1970. In 2003 81 cases were confirmed in the US following close contact with prairie dogs, the first outbreak recorded outside of Africa. Then in 2017 a further 172 suspected cases were identified in Nigeria.

As of August 2022, there have been more than 3,000 confirmed cases across the UK alone, with some 35,000 confirmed cases across the globe.

The most recent news comes from the first human-to-canine infection of a pet dog in Paris.

Reported by the BBC, Dr Mike Ryan, director of the Health Emergencies Programme, said that developments like this were “not unexpected.”

He continued: “What we don’t want to see happen is disease moving from one species to the next, and then remaining in that species (and) moving around within a new species because that’s when the virus can adapt, and then adapting to that new species (the virus) is incentivised to evolve.”

 

Symptoms

Death is relatively rare with monkeypox, with only 12 having passed away so far this outbreak out of the 35,000 confirmed cases.

However, the virus can be extremely uncomfortable, with symptoms including:

  • a high temperature,
  • aches
  • rashes
  • blisters, and
  • scabbing

Symptoms usually start to show between 5 and 21 days after infection, and clear up after a few weeks. However; whilst symptoms are present, the patient is infectious.

 

Spread

Unlike respiratory viruses, such as COVID-19, which predominantly spread through the air; monkeypox is primarily passed through touch. This includes:

  • Close physical contact – particularly with the blisters or scabs of an infected individual
  • Touching clothing, material or items used by an infected individual

Monkeypox can also be transferred from animal to human. In addition to touching an infected animal, it can also be spread through:

  • Being bitten
  • Eating infected meat that has not been thoroughly cooked.

 

Treatment

The ideal form of controlling any outbreak is prevention.

The smallpox vaccination is being rolled out to those most at risk, and has been proven to be 85% effective against preventing monkeypox.

However; monkeypox vaccine supplies are running low across the world, with the UK vaccination roll out has slowed down or been paused entirely in some places until additional stock can be secured in September.

 

Protection

As with all highly infectious viruses, those tasked with caring for those infected is a concern.

The UK’s 4 public health bodies – UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), Public Health Scotland (PHS), Public Health Wales (PHW) and Public Health Agency Northern Ireland (PHA) – have released joint guidance to support healthcare professionals.

In addition to infected individuals being encouraged to isolate; healthcare providers that are required to have patient contact with an infected individual should wear:

  • A fit-tested FFP3 respirator
  • Eye protection
  • Long sleeved, fluid repellent, disposable gown
  • Disposable gloves

For possible/probable cases where symptoms have yet to develop, they recommend:

  • A fluid repellent surgical mask (FRSM/Type IIR) – or an FFP3 respirator if the patient has a cough
  • Eye protection
  • Disposable apron
  • Disposable gloves

 


 

As one of the leading suppliers of RPE and PPE to the NHS, we have disposable gloves, aprons and FFP3 respirators available for sale. For more information, please visit our store page, or get in touch for a quote.

If you believe you have monkeypox, please self-isolate and visit: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/monkeypox/

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