Briones: No monkey business

·2 min read

It’s hard to take a disease seriously with a name like “monkeypox,” but the way it has been bandied about should give the public some pause.

I mean, we’re not even out of the woods yet with the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic. And now this?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently announced that nearly 200 cases of monkeypox have been reported in more than 20 countries not usually known to have such outbreaks.

By the way, majority of these countries are either in Europe or in North America. Still, with people being able to crisscross the globe within a day there’s a huge chance it will be knocking on our door pretty soon. So we shouldn’t let our guard down.

At any rate, no deaths have been reported so far, albeit some patients had to endure the discomforts associated with the disease for several weeks before recovering.

To those who don’t know, monkeypox, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “begins with fever, headache, muscle aches and exhaustion. The main difference between symptoms of smallpox and monkeypox is that monkeypox causes lymph nodes to swell while smallpox does not. The incubation period (time from infection to symptoms) for monkeypox is usually seven−14 days but can range from five−21 days.

“Within one to three days (sometimes longer) after the appearance of fever, the patient develops a rash, often beginning on the face then spreading to other parts of the body.

“Lesions progress through the following stages before falling off: macules, papules, vesicles, pustules, scabs.”

Meanwhile, the WHO’s epidemic and pandemic preparedness and prevention chief is not so sure of the situation herself.

“We don’t know if we are just seeing the peak of the iceberg,” said Sylvie Briand.

Not exactly reassuring. In fact, it’s the last thing I want to hear after having lived through more than two years of disruptions caused by Covid-19.

But let’s look at the figures again, shall we?

Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead, said that about 200 confirmed cases and more than 100 suspected cases have been detected outside of countries where monkeypox usually circulates.

“This is a containable situation. It will be difficult, but it’s a containable situation in the non-endemic countries,” she added.

The bottom line is the situation has only garnered world attention after cases were reported in affluent countries and not say in impoverished nations where populations have been living with and dying from the disease for generations.

In Africa, “monkeypox has been shown to cause death in as many as one in 10 persons who contract the disease.”

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