Monkeypox In Pakistan: Do You Need To Be Worried?

Monkeypox In Pakistan: Do You Need To Be Worried?
Monkeypox cases have been detected in Pakistan. This news is circulating on electronic, print and social media and is causing both legitimate and unnecessary fear among people. According to the data so far, 80,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported in 111 countries of the world, and 119 deaths have been reported due to this disease. Pakistan has reported three cases of monkeypox so far, but the number of cases is expected to increase. In such a situation, it is necessary to convey to the public what is monkeypox, how can we protect ourselves and how to tell myth apart from facts.

What is Monkeypox and how does it spread?

Monkeypox is a disease caused by the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox is a rare kind of infection that can spread from animals to humans. It can also transmit from humans to other humans and from the environment to humans. The virus is spread usually through close contact with infected animals or humans, or contact with the blood, bodily fluids, or skin lesions of infected animals or humans. Close contact means being face-to-face, skin-to-skin, mouth-to-mouth or mouth-to-skin contact. The virus can also be passed from mother to child during pregnancy, through skin-to-skin contact at birth, or afterwards. Additionally, it can be transmitted from an infected parent to an infant or child during close contact.

Symptoms of monkeypox

Fever, headache, muscle pain, backache, low energy, and swollen lymph nodes may be present and may be followed or accompanied by a rash which could remain for two to three weeks. The rash usually starts on the face and then spreads to other parts of the body. The infection classically lasts for two to four weeks, but severe cases can last longer and cause more serious symptoms.

While there is no definitive treatment for monkeypox, supportive care can be given to help lessen the symptoms. Avoiding contact with animals and infected individuals, as well as maintaining proper hygiene, such as washing hands often with soap and water, are preventive measures. There are some myths and misconceptions about monkeypox that can cause unnecessary fear and confusion.

Here are some common myths about monkeypox and the reality behind them:

Myth: Monkeypox is a new disease that recently emerged.

Reality: Monkeypox was first identified in 1958 in monkeys, and the first case of monkeypox in humans was reported in 1970. While there have been recent outbreaks in some parts of Africa, the disease is not new.

Myth: Monkeypox is always fatal.

Reality: While monkeypox can be serious, it is usually a self-limiting disease that resolves on its own within a few weeks. Most people recover fully without needing specific treatment. However, in rare cases, monkeypox can cause severe complications, particularly in people with weakened immune systems.

Myth: Monkeypox can be spread by touching a doorknob.

Reality: Experts are still studying whether public can get monkeypox by touching surfaces and objects. So far, almost all cases are linked to close contact with infected individual. However, surfaces and objects can be cleaned with soap and water and general disinfectants or a bleach to kill the virus.

Myth: Monkeypox is only transmitted through monkeys.

Reality: Monkeypox is primarily transmitted through contact with infected animals, such as rodents and primates, but it can also spread from person to person through respiratory or direct contact with infected bodily fluids.

Myth: There is no treatment for monkeypox.

Reality: While there is no specific treatment for monkeypox, however, supportive care, such as pain relief, fever reduction, and management of complications, can help to improve outcomes.

Myth: Monkeypox is similar to chickenpox.

Reality: The chickenpox rash may look similar to a monkeypox rash, they are not related. Because chickenpox is caused by a virus that is unrelated to monkeypox, having had a chickenpox (varicella) infection or vaccine in the past will not protect you from monkeypox.

Myth: Monkeypox is a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Reality: Monkeypox is not currently classified as an STI, it is transmitted through close physical contact that includes sexual activity. monkeypox also spreads through other close physical contact (e.g., hugging, kissing, cuddling), but especially skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. The monkeypox rash may look like an STI and can appear on the genitals.

Myth: Monkeypox only affects gay and bisexual men.

Reality: Anyone can get monkeypox. However, during the current outbreak, cisgender males who are gay, bisexual, or same-gender loving have been affected the most. At this time, monkeypox has mostly spread between people who have had close physical contact with a person who had the virus.

It is important to separate fact from fiction when it comes to monkeypox and to rely on credible sources of information, such as public health authorities, for guidance and advice. While monkeypox can be a serious disease, it is generally rare, and taking appropriate precautions can help to reduce the risk of transmission.


The author is Assistant Professor at the Department of Medical Entomology and Parasitology at the Institute of Public Health, Lahore