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Monkeypox: What is it? Is it deadly? Is it easy to catch?

Originating from Africa, the disease has been in headlines recently as people have contracted the rare disease.

Update:
An electron microscopic (EM) image shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virus particles as well as crescents and spherical particles of immature virions, obtained from a clinical human skin sample.
CYNTHIA S. GOLDSMITH, RUSSELL REVIA REUTERS

Cases of the monkeypox virus have been springing up in the US and western Europe. They have been reported in London, Madrid, Lisbon, Rome and Stockholm. Usually the cases are linked to peopel who have recently travelled to Africa, where the virus is much more prevalent.

Neither Spain or Portugal had reported the virus in their country before. The US is seeing its first cases this week, but what actually is the illness and how dangerous can it be?

What is it?

Monkeypox is a viral infection that is typically found in western and central Africa, making the new cases a strange anomaly.

Symptoms are similar to the early strains of covid-19, but with one major distinction. Like many other poxes, someone with the illness will have a rash. Sometimes it is confused with chickenpox due to its similar look.

Usually symptoms are gone within four weeks.

Is it deadly?

There are two strains of the virus. One, the West African strain, has a 1 percent fatality rate. The second, from the Congo, has a fatality rate of 10 percent.

Is it easy to catch?

It is possible to contract monkeypox from a person, though it was thought to be quite difficult to do so. It is far more common to catch monkeypox from an infected animal. This is usually through a bite or touching its bodily fluids.

Between humans it is possible to contract the virus through:

  • touching clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with the monkeypox rash
  • touching monkeypox skin blisters or scabs
  • the coughs or sneezes of a person with the monkeypox rash

The outbreak in the UK has been linked to the virus being transmitted sexually. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said people should be alert to unusual rashes or lesions on any part of their body, especially their genitalia.

Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at UKHSA, said: “These latest cases, together with reports of cases in countries across Europe, confirms our initial concerns that there could be spread of monkeypox within our communities.

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