Monkeypox fatality rate – potential cures and treatments as global cases rise

Monkeypox is has now gone global, with more than 80 confirmed cases spread over 12 different countries.

The tropical viral infection is known to spread through close contact but now health officials are racing to find out whether it also spreads through sexual networks, too.

There are thought to be two types of monkeypox, the west African and central African strain. Those recently diagnosed in the UK are believed to have the milder west African variant.

The virus gets its name from crab-eating laboratory macaque monkeys in 1958, who were observed to have developed pox. Then 12 years later in 1970, the first human case of monkeypox was detected in Democratic Republic of Congo.

  • Monkeypox could be spread through sex, UK health chiefs say

How deadly is monkeypox?

According to the World Health Organisation, the case fatality rate of the milder strain that has spread globally, is around 3-6%. This is compared to the more serious strain known to have a fatality rate of 10%.

Monkeypox is usually transmitted to humans through close contact with an infected individual or animal. This can include eating the meat and/or touching the fur or skin of an animal carrying it.

The virus' name is somewhat of a misnomer, as monkeys are not the major carrier; instead it is rodents. This can be seen in the 2003 US outbreak, which was traced back to imported rodents from Ghana.

Can monkeypox be cured?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no cure for monkeypox, but it can be treated.

Treatments for the infection include the smallpox vaccine, antivirals and vaccinia immune globulin – made from the pooled blood of individuals who have been inoculated with the smallpox vaccine.

Patients who catch monkeypox and receive treatment usually recover within two to four weeks.

Those infected are required to isolate and are often hospitalised to enable medical officials to monitor symptoms and stop the spread of the virus.

Monkeypox symptoms

The UK Health Security Agency states the early symptoms of monkeypox include a fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion and chills.

"A rash can develop, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body, including the genitals," the agency claims.

"The rash changes and goes through different stages, and can look like chickenpox or syphilis, before finally forming a scab, which later falls off."

If you get infected with monkeypox, it usually takes between five days to three weeks for the first symptoms to appear.

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