KATHMANDU: Even though the coronavirus infection seems to have decreased in Nepal, the risk is not over yet. In recent times, monkeypox infection is increasing. It has affected many countries of the world. Nepal is also not immune to monkeypox.
Khabarhub’s Bina Neupane talked to infectious disease specialist Dr. Sher Bahadur Pun to get further details on how to avoid monkeypox, what are the effects of its infection. Excerpts:
Recently, experts are saying that there is a risk of monkeypox in Nepal, how should we take it?
Monkeypox is a virus confined mainly to Africa. However, after 50 years, it is spreading across the world from the African continent. It has been a long time since this infectious virus was discovered.
Due to the increase in infection cases in our neighboring country India, and due to the open border, we are at risk in Nepal as well; so we should be more cautious. We might not know when it starts in Nepal as this virus also spreads internally like coronavirus.
As it is spreading in European countries, it has been reported that the sores or abscesses seen in monkeypox patients are especially on the private parts.
Therefore, if it is not seen on the face, arms and legs, but it is seen on the genitals. It takes time to be confirmed because people are ashamed to share it.
How do you know if you have monkeypox?
First, if we look at the African continent, there were the symptoms like infection, fever, sore throat and swelling of the glands were noticed within 21 days of the infection.
After a couple of days, blisters will appear and burst. Now it is spreading after 50 years. Recently, blisters have been seen less.
Most of them are more visible in the private parts. Only then will its effect be seen on the face. There is a situation where patients go to the hospital only after noticing it on the face.
In Europe, about 13 percent go to the hospital only when the pain becomes worse. In some cases, it was suspected to be a sexually transmitted disease; however, during the examination, it was found to be monkeypox.
It is also suspected that people who have traveled to places where monkeypox has been infected can carry the virus.
How does monkeypox spread from one person to another?
European and African countries have different symptoms. The monkeypox virus has also been found to be transmitted on exposed skin through contact with a person with the monkeypox virus. The disease can also spread when others wear the clothes used by the infected person.
Sexual contact is also said to be one of the causes of transmission. However, it is not considered a major factor.
The UK was the first to confirm the transmission of the virus outside the African continent. There, the virus was found more common in male homosexuals.
Possibly it got transmitted during intercourse which is accompanied by pus-like fluid. It can be assumed that it may have been transferred to another person through the wound.
According to the latest data, the virus has spread to 9 people in India. One person was reported dead. Some of them have not even traveled abroad.
Whether they are gay or not has not yet been revealed yet. So it is not easy to say with certainty what kind of virus it is.
This type of virus was first seen in the 1970s when one in 10 people died. Is that the basis for confirmation or has it changed?
It is speculated that there has been a change in the way it spreads and causes death. Earlier, the fact that there were many deaths in Africa was made public.
However, that is not the case now. Such incidents are becoming public. So the research has not proven that great interest and reason. It is now said to be spreading more contagiously than fatally outside of Africa.
Viral infections in some chronically ill, elderly citizens may pose some risk. So there is no need to panic now. Because it is spreading and infections are increasing in many countries, the World Health Organization may have put it through Public Help Emergency. I see it as a skin problem.
As an expert and researcher, how do you see the current situation?
I am looking at the latest research in developed countries almost daily. Looking at it, we think, the World Health Organization has declared a global emergency. That made us all more excited. You may wonder if it will be like coronavirus.
Looking at the current situation, there is no big problem and no need to panic. However, the impact of the disease should not be underestimated.
Because it is similar to smallpox, it has been said that the same vaccine used in smallpox can be used. What is the reality of this?
Various statistics show that the vaccine against smallpox is still 85 percent effective. However, smallpox was eradicated by the 1980s, so it is not easy to get. So this disease is not new. Even now, there is talk that a vaccine is being developed against monkeypox.
What is the effective way to avoid this virus?
The people who come back from the place where monkeypox has spread, blisters will rise on the body, and the stomach will pain as well.
Monkeypox can be suspected if the glands swell. Be careful even if you have been in contact with someone who has monkeypox.
Special attention should be paid to cleanliness. Studies have shown that this disease is more common in male homosexuals. So, one has to take special precautions.