Monkeypox is an infection caused by a virus in the same family as smallpox Image Credit: Shutterstock

As the world continues to grapple with the fallout of the persistent COVID-19 outbreak, a new virus has surfaced, sparking fears of yet another pandemic.

The good news is that the new infection, the monkeypox, results in much milder symptoms than the coronavirus, and almost a month after it was first reported in West Africa, only some 200 cases reported worldwide. Nevertheless, caution and preventive measures are absolutely required to keep it in check.

According to the Harvard Medical School’s website, monkeypox is an infection caused by a virus in the same family as smallpox. It causes a similar, but less severe, illness and is most common in central and western Africa. “Certain squirrels and rats found in Africa are among other animals that harbor this virus,” it says. The new trend is that it is “spreading fast” outside of Africa.

The early symptoms of monkeypox are flulike, and include fever, fatigue, headache and enlarged lymph nodes. In some cases, appearance of rash on some of those infected has been reported. The report says that although the symptoms are usually mild, “complications can include pneumonia, vision loss due to eye infection, and sepsis, a life-threatening infection.”

UAE fully prepared 

In the UAE, authorities reported few days ago the first case, a 29-year-old woman arriving from West Africa. The Ministry of Health and Prevention said she was receiving the necessary medical treatment.

The ministry assured the public that its teams are fully prepared to deal with any circumstances. “The technical advisory team for pandemic control has prepared a comprehensive guide for surveillance, early detection of the disease, management of clinically infected patients and precautionary measures.”

The public however is urged to be careful, for the sake of their safety and of their loved ones. There is absolutely no need to panic.

As reported by the World Health Organisation (WHO), mass vaccinations, similar to COVID-19 measures, are unlikely to be needed against the monkeypox.

But with the confusion and lack of enough information, it is necessary to observe good hygiene and practice safe sex to help control its spread. Also, one needs to avoid contact with people suspected of being infected, avoid contact with sick animals that could be carrying the virus, keep santizing, and only eat meat that is cooked thoroughly.

COVID-19 remains the main threat to health globally. The monkeypox seems a minor hazard in comparison. But it is a threat nevertheless that has the potential to infect more people if necessary preventive measures are ignored.