The World Health Organization has declared monkeypox a global health emergency amidst increasing pressure for swift action to stop the spread of the virus. More than 16,000 confirmed cases have been recorded in 75 countries so far this year, the WHO said on Monday.
The initial symptoms can include a fever, headaches, sharp muscle pains, fatigue, a rash, as well as swollen and painful lymph nodes.
A few days after the fever begins, the rash can turn into painful, fluid-filled skin lesions.
After a few days or weeks, the lesions or sores turn into scabs, before falling off.
Despite the virus only gaining popularity recently, monkeypox has long been endemic in Central and Western Africa. In countries elsewhere that have recorded cases since May, the lesions have been more common around the genitals and anus, as well as on the mouth.
Symptoms have varied between patients, lasting between two to four weeks, and the virus is contagious until the rash has fully healed.
In most cases, the disease heals by itself after two to three weeks, sometimes even 4 weeks.
The most severe cases have been seen in children, pregnant women, and people with comprised immune systems. No deaths have been reported so far in Europe or the United States.
People with monkeypox are advised not to scratch the lesions, as this could spread the virus or leave a scar. It is advised to cover them to avoid temptation.
The European Medicines Agency has approved a smallpox medication, Tecovirimat, for monkeypox treatment.
A smallpox vaccine from Danish drug maker Bavarian Nordic, marketed under the name Jynneos in the United States and Imvanex in Europe, has also been found to protect against monkeypox. The European Commission approved its use for monkeypox on Monday.
The vaccine is given in two doses, at least 28 days apart to those who are most vulnerable. But for people vaccinated against smallpox as children, one dose is enough. A third dose is recommended for people with comprised immune systems.
As the vaccines do not provide immediate or total protection, health authorities advise caution after receiving an injection.