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8 Oct 2017

Beware! 7 key ways monkeypox can be transmitted

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has announced that there is a suspected outbreak of a viral disease called monkeypox in Bayelsa state.
In the press release, members of the public were urged to remain calm, alert and know the signs and symptoms of the disease. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has listed the major facts about the disease.

Monkeypox is not a newly discovered disease, it has been known for decades, although relatively rare. Dr Charles-Davies OA, a medical doctor and founder of 25 Doctors, a platform where you can ask doctors questions online, spoke about the ways the disease is transmitted. Here are 7 different ways the disease is transmitted:

1. Contact with infected monkeys 
Monkeypox is caused by a virus. The virus has been previously isolated in animals like monkeys, rats and squirrels. Human outbreaks are more likely to be spread from infected animals than from a human to another human. Close contact with infected monkeys can spread the virus to humans. Monkeys are sometimes hunted in rural areas, and touching an infected monkey, even a dead monkey can make a person contract the disease.

2. Contact with infected rodents 
Rodents like rats and squirrels can transmit the monkeypox virus to human beings if they are infected. The virus is present in the blood, body fluids and secretions of infected rodents. Close contact with these mammals when infected can increase the chances of a human outbreak

3. Bites and scratches from infected animals 
The virus is usually found in the blood and body fluids of infected animals including saliva. A bite or scratch can cause skin breakage and lead to the transfer of the virus from the infected animal to a human.

4. Eating inadequately cooked meat 
In some parts of Nigeria, rodents are consumed as ‘bush-meat’. In fact, it is a known delicacy. Eating rodents during a monkeypox outbreak can increase the likelihood of contracting the disease, because a dead infected rodent can still contain the virus. As a rule, all meat should be properly cooked, as this can decrease the likelihood of getting infected, thorough cooking kills the virus.

5. Contact with respiratory secretions of an infected person 
Monkeypox can be spread by respiratory droplets or secretions. An example is a sneeze. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, thousands of respiratory droplets are released into the air. This is why infected persons are usually treated in isolation wards to prevent the transmission of the virus to members of the public.

6. Contact with blood, body fluids, rash of an infected person 
Contact with body fluids of an infected person can spread the virus. Examples of body fluids are saliva, tears and urine. Also, touching a monkeypox rash can increase the chances of getting infected with the disease. This puts health workers at particular risk of getting infected. It was reported that a doctor was also infected by the current outbreak in Bayelsa. Health professionals often come in contact with blood and body fluids of ill patients while caring for them and hence are at a relatively increased risk of getting infected by the virus.

7. Contact with clothing of an infected person 
Apart from direct physical contact, the clothing or materials used by infected person can lead to an indirect transmission. The virus can be found on materials like clothes and bedsheets even when the person has removed them or isn’t lying down on the sheets. Close contact with these materials can increase the chances of being infected.

As a means of avoiding contracting monkeypox, the federal ministry of health has advised Nigerians to avoid consuming bushmeat and dead animals. Professor Adewole, minister of health, gave the advise to Nigerians on Thursday, October 5.

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