20220630 monkeypox
The WHO has declared monkeypox a global health emergency, which makes it a serious public health issue that requires worldwide efforts to eliminate it. Image Credit: Reuters

Should I worry about monkeypox? When the World Health Organisation declares the disease a global health emergency, there’s reason enough to be concerned. The WHO’s warning stems from reports of over 16,000 cases from more than 75 countries. That’s more than a good enough reason to be cautious.

For a disease that has been around since the 1950s among monkeys, the sudden surge of cases in humans is troubling. All these years, monkeypox has largely been confined to central and western Africa (the first human case was detected in 1970). Suddenly, it’s popping up everywhere. Even five deaths have been reported. That has prompted WHO to issue its highest alert.

Why monkeypox cases have soared

Why’s monkeypox spreading now? Although there are no definite answers, ease of global travel could well be an answer. Mutations may be. Or, it could be the result of reduced immunity in the aftermath of COVID infections. I guess we will know soon since WHO has red-flagged it, paving the way for more research.

So, how can I avoid catching monkeypox? The chances of infections are slim, but the increase in casescalls for more vigilant. Hygiene is the key. We have stepped up our hygiene levels ever since the new coronavirus rampaged around the world. But, we have slipped a bit since the number of COVID cases dwindled. We just have to dial it up again.

The COVID safety protocol included handwashing with soap or sanitisers. If you have eased up on that too, this is the time to resume it. Who knows whether we accidentally touched a virus-infested spot or not. I’m not risking it.

read more

People in shared accommodations are particularly vulnerable. One ailing person can put the rest at risk. Monkeypox may not be an airborne disease, yet avoiding close contact with sick people would help. More so since respiratory secretions could carry the virus. So continuing to wear the facemask would help. After all, COVID hasn’t gone away.

Direct contact with rashes, scabs or lesions is the main mode of transmission. So it’s prudent to avoid sharing clothes. Towels too. People who share bed spaces have to be doubly careful. Always use fresh linen if someone has used the bed. A little caution could go a long way in warding off monkeypox.

Monkeypox may not be COVID, but let us not ignore it. We don’t want another infectious disease. The painful lessons of COVID are still fresh in our memory. We certainly don’t want a rerun. We can’t afford it.