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Who Is Most Vulnerable To The Monkeypox Virus?

By Saksham Bhatia +2 more

This article has been reviewed by Dr Nikita Toshi


Introduction

Though the Covid-19 pandemic hasn’t fully subsided, we already have another new virus posing a serious health risk: monkeypox. While the World Health Organization has stated that the virus does not have a very high transmission rate as COVID-19, it has still been declared a global health emergency. The disease is quite similar to smallpox, which had previously been eradicated, but less severe in presentation.

The disease is self-limiting and its symptoms may last around 3-4 weeks. The fatality rate so far has been 3-6%. The virus primarily spreads through close skin-to-skin contact and via contaminated surfaces. The symptoms take the form of a fever, swollen lymph nodes and rashes on the skin, which may develop into other medical complications.

Who does it affect the most?

As a popular belief circulating among the masses, monkeypox spreads mostly through sexual contact. The most susceptible group are men who have sex with men (MSM). Transgender and gender-fluid people are also at a higher risk of catching the disease. It is, however, highly likely that the virus may also spread among other parts of the population. It is, however, important to note that the virus is not considered a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Anyone who is exposed to a person/animal/object infected with the monkeypox virus can catch the infection.

Who is at a higher risk?

  • People with weak immunity.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women. 
  • Children below eight years of age. 
  • Anyone with prolonged exposure to an infected person or animal.

Key takeaways:

  • WHO has declared monkeypox a global health emergency.
  • It is not yet a pandemic.
  • The group of people most susceptible to it are MSM.
  • Data indicates that monkeypox spreads mostly through sexual contact but can also spread by close contact with infected animals, infected persons and their belongings (bedsheets, towels, utensils etc).
  • Monkeypox is not considered a sexually transmitted disease (STD) as there are other modes of transmission too.
  • The virus spreads more between closely knit sexual communities like the one among queer men.
  • Though the current risk to the wider population is low, it could grow rapidly if not checked at the moment.
  • Infected persons must be isolated and provided treatment as prescribed by a doctor.

Conclusion

With the way things currently are, it is imperative that we must arm ourselves with the correct information and precautions to battle the spread of the virus. We must remove the stigma surrounding conversations about sex and the need to practise safe sex, especially between men, in order to successfully combat the disease and protect MSM as well as the larger population from fatal health risks. It is important to understand that any person of any age and gender can get this infection. Consult a doctor if you notice any symptoms related to monkeypox, isolate as advised and follow all safety measures to minimise the spread and exposure to the Monkeypox virus. 

Sources:

https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/monkeypox-french-health-authority-recommends-vaccination-people-exposed-virus-2022-07-08/

https://www.science.org/content/article/why-the-monkeypox-outbreak-is-mostly-affecting-men-who-have-sex-with-men

https://www.who.int/news/item/25-05-2022-monkeypox–public-health-advice-for-gay–bisexual-and-other-men-who-have-sex-with-men

https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/sexualhealth/index.html

Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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