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Will Monkey-pox Take the Covid-19 Route?

July 3, 2023

On July 23, 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. Monkeypox is a virus that belongs to the same family as smallpox and chickenpox. As of June 19, 2023, the outbreak had occurred in 112 countries, with 87,972 laboratory-confirmed cases and 1,097 probable cases, including 147 deaths. The first case in Nepal was recently identified on June 16, raising public concerns about a possible outbreak in Nepal.


Dr. Prajwal Pudasaini, a dermatologist at Minbhavan Civil Service Hospital in Kathmandu, stated that although mpox is not as contagious as Covid-19 because the virus is not airborne, this case could still lead to an outbreak if people are not careful. According to a WHO report, an infected person can transmit the virus one to four days before the onset of any symptoms until the symptoms/rash heal.


The incubation period for mpox is about 3 to 17 days, and common symptoms may last 2 to 4 weeks, including high fever, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash. The virus can be transmitted through sexual contact, skin contact, saliva, mucus, pus in the rash, and droplets. Symptoms begin with fever, and a rash appears 2 to 3 days after fever. It can be easily confused with a common viral fever, and people may not be able to keep the required distance. Additionally, because many people are unaware of mpox, they may not opt for medical testing. Some may confuse mpox with chickenpox and not know the difference between the rashes.


For most people, symptoms are limited to a fever and rash unless they are immunocompromised. However, mpox can be fatal in infants, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with diabetes, existing heart and liver problems, and chronic diseases such as HIV/AIDS. In such cases, mpox can lead to other complications such as meningitis, encephalitis, pneumonia, and organ failure. The global mortality rate is currently less than 1 percent.


The best approach for now is to return to the precautions taken during the Covid-19 pandemic, including social distancing, wearing masks, and using disinfectants. It is necessary to inform people about the possible symptoms of mpox and the precautions to take if there are signs of infection.