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Rare virus is nothing to monkey around about

Panicking about a new pandemic that may put you in lockdown again? Don’t. The monkeypox virus everyone is talking about is not like Covid-19: it’s far less contagious, scientists know much more about it, and its similarity to smallpox means vaccines are already available. The current strain in circulation is also less severe than others. 

The World Health Organisation does not believe it will lead to a pandemic. 

The virus normally found in central and west Africa has appeared across Europe and the US in recent weeks – even in people who have never travelled to Africa.

This has caused some alarm and has led experts to believe that it might have been circulating in the United Kingdom for years. 

Some history: The name “monkeypox” originates from the initial discovery of the virus in monkeys in a Danish laboratory in 1958. The first human case was identified in a child in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970.

The disease is transmitted from one person to another by close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials such as bedding. Its incubation period is usually from six to 13 days but can range from five to 21 days. 

Monkeypox usually goes away after a week or two, but it may be severe in some individuals, such as children, pregnant women, or persons with immunosuppression due to other health conditions. 

South Africans shouldn’t worry too much though. The National Institute of Communicable Diseases said in a statement last week that there were no recorded or suspected cases of monkeypox in the country. 
The NICD has also said that it has the capacity to test for monkeypox. That’s good news for all of us. We can’t take another hellish two years. 😵

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