Umair Jalali is concerned about a threatening disease
As the world is still grappling with the murderous COVID pandemic, it is now reported that two deadly viruses have emerged to create trouble for the human race. Most frightfully Arrival of Monkeypox is reported to have reached Pakistan and official healthcare officials have reported that its strains are detected in many hospitals in the country. A health expert said that Zika virus spreads mostly through an infected Aedes species mosquito during the day and night. Unfortunately, there is no treatment available for Zika virus infection or its associated diseases and that no vaccine was yet available for the prevention or treatment of the infection. Zika virus could be transmitted from mother to fetus during pregnancy, resulting in microcephaly (smaller than normal head size) and other congenital malformations in the infant.
About Monkeypox it is said that it is a rare viral zoonotic disease that occurred primarily in remote parts of central and West Africa, near tropical rain forests. The virus was similar to human smallpox, a disease that had been eradicated in 1980. The disease could be transmitted through contact with infected animals, humans or materials contaminated with the virus. The virus enters the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract or the mucous membranes like the eyes, nose or mouth. Other human-to-human methods of transmission include direct or indirect contact with body fluids, lesions or contaminated clothing. The patient develops a rash within one to three days after the appearance of fever, often beginning on the face and then spreading to other parts of the body. Other symptoms include headache, muscle aches, exhaustion and lymphadenopathy. The incubation period is usually seven to 14 days but can range from five to 21 days. The illness typically lasts for two to four weeks.
Global health officials have sounded the alarm over rising cases in Europe and elsewhere of monkeypox, a type of viral infection more common to west and central Africa. It is reported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that some 80 monkeypox cases have been confirmed and an additional 50 are under investigation in 11 countries, according to the WHO. Monkeypox is related to smallpox but is usually milder, particularly the West African strain of the virus that has a fatality rate of around 1 per cent. Experts believe the current monkeypox outbreak is being spread through close, intimate skin-on-skin contact with someone who has an active rash and that should make its spread easier to contain once infections are identified.
The recent outbreaks reported so far are atypical, according to the WHO, as they are occurring in countries where the virus does not regularly circulate. Scientists are seeking to understand the origin of the current cases and whether anything about the virus has changed. Most of the cases reported so far have been detected in the UK, Spain and Portugal. There have also been cases in Canada and Australia, and a single case of monkeypox was confirmed in Boston, with public health officials saying more cases are likely to turn up in the United States. WHO officials have expressed concerns that more infections may emerge as people gather for festivals, parties and holidays during the summer months.
The UK has begun to inoculate healthcare workers, who may be at risk while caring for patients, with the smallpox vaccine, which can also protect against monkeypox. There are antiviral drugs for smallpox that could also be used to treat monkeypox under certain circumstances. More broadly, health officials say that people should avoid close personal contact with someone who has a rash illness or who is otherwise unwell. People who suspect they have monkeypox should isolate and seek medical care.
As far as what might be behind the monkeypox cases experts opine that viruses are nothing new and expected. A number of factors including increased global travel as well as climate change have accelerated the emergence and spread of viruses. The world is also more on alert to new outbreaks of any kind in the wake of the Covid pandemic. Since the virus can be transmitted through contact with skin lesions or droplets from a contaminated person, as well as through shared items such as bedding or towels, therefore, it can be relatively easily contained through such measures as self-isolation and hygiene.
It is widely believed by experts that close contact was the key transmission route, as lesions typical of the disease are very infectious. For example, parents caring for sick children are at risk, as are health-workers, that is why some countries have started inoculating teams treating monkeypox patients using vaccines for smallpox, a related virus. They maintain that it is biologically plausible that the virus had been circulating outside of the countries where it is endemic but had not led to major outbreaks as a result of Covid-19 lockdowns, social distancing and travel restrictions. There is no specific treatment but vaccination against smallpox has been found to be about 85 per cent effective in preventing monkeypox. TW