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As of late May 2022, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health advisory regarding the confirmed cases of the monkeypox virus. They have identified nine cases across seven U.S. states, and among them, many have occurred in men who have sex with men. So is monkeypox a gay disease or can anyone contract it? 

You might have heard about smallpox and the last naturally occurring case was reported in 1977. Currently, there is no evidence of smallpox transmission in the world. But now, monkeypox is identified as a rare disease similar to smallpox and found mostly in areas of Africa and now seen in other areas of the world. It is not a newly occurred disease but was discovered in the 1950s. 

What is Monkeypox? 

It is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus like the better-known virus that caused smallpox and is classified as an orthopoxvirus. It is a zoonotic virus that spreads from animals to humans. It is mostly found in monkeys, other primates, and certain rodents in Africa. This can even be transmitted from human to human, leading to rash and flu-like symptoms. 

The world health organization (WHO) had confirmed around 100 cases across several countries in Europe, along with Canada and Australia. 

History of monkeypox

The virus was first discovered in 1958 in Denmark. The researchers noticed a pox-like skin outbreak on the monkeys that came from Singapore. And so this was named monkeypox. In the next decade, more cases were reported in the U.S. of captive monkeys imported from Asia, and these were considered accidental hosts of the virus. 

History of monkeypox

The first human infection occurred in 1970 in Congo’s Équateur Province in a nine-month-old baby. Initially, they thought it to be smallpox but later it resembled to be monkeypox. By 1985, the WHO recorded 310 monkeypox cases in rural West and Central Africa. 

Surveys were conducted, and in 1985 they found 383 wild animals including rodents, monkeys, and bats in Nothern Congo revealing monkeypox-specific antibodies in the blood samples of two Thomas’ rope squirrel which is likely hunted and consumed for met. One of the squirrels had eruptions. 

How is monkeypox transmitted? 

Monkeypox is actually less contagious than smallpox but spreads from person to person through close contact. It gets into your body through a break in your skin or through your nose, eyes, or mouth. It can be transmitted through respiratory droplets that you breathe in when contact with body fluids like semen or blood, contact with monkeypox lesions, things like clothes or bedding that have touched infected body fluids, or if any infected animals bite or scratch you. There are possibilities for you to get it if you eat uncooked contaminated meat. 

Is monkeypox a gay disease?

Multiple cases and suspected monkeypox infections have been reported. The initial cases that appeared in the United Kingdom include four men who identified as gay, bisexual, or men who have sex with men. 

We know monkeypox can be spread when there is close contact with lesions of someone who is infected. And it looks like sexual contact has raised the transmission. The U.K. officials have said that the cases in Britain and Europe have been in young men who have no history of traveling to Africa while being gay, bisexual, or having sex with men. Even the Spain and Portugal authorities said that the cases were found in men who mostly had sex with other men.

So really is monkeypox a gay disease? Monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease and the disease is not confined to gay men but anybody can contract monkeypox through contact. The experts are trying to understand if it is enhanced person-to-person transmission of this virus. The genetic sequence of the virus obtained from infected patients is researched to find if there are any mutations that could make the virus potentially more transmissible. To confirm this is not a sexually transmitted disease, the experts are checking whether it is infectious or is it present in the vaginal or semen. 

Symptoms of Monkeypox

Symptoms of Monkeypox

It takes between 1 to 2 weeks after exposure to the monkeypox virus to get sick. You’ll find symptoms like headache, fever, chills, backaches, tiredness, dry cough, chills, swollen lymph nodes, breathing trouble if serious, and sore throat. 

A rash shows up on your face one to 3 days after your fever starts. Then it spreads to hands, arms, feet, and, legs. First, you will find the rash to be in round lesions, then to raised bumps, bumps with clear fluid, and change into bumps with yellowish fluids. 

Are there treatments? 

Are there treatments? 

Many people get better at their own treatment getting isolated at home for weeks. It is advised for those who had close contact with the infected individual to quarantine for 21 days. While the United States, says about the availability of vaccines called Jynneos and ACAM2000 to prevent or make it less severe. But still, there are no medications approved. 

How to prevent Monkeypox?

The vaccines that are used to treat smallpox can provide protection against monkeypox but it is currently limited to people who work in the lab with the disease. 

You can avoid contact with infected animals, especially the ones who are sick or dead. Use personal protection when caring for people who are infected. Avoid contact with bedding and other things that are contaminated with the virus. Cook the foods thoroughly that contain animal meat or parts. Wash your hands with soap and water after coming into contact with the infected animal. 

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