It has been a good while since we have had a national panic over a disease, isn’t it? Here we stand having not been eradicated by Swine Flu, Bird-flu, hell, not even Ebola was able to wipe out us Brits. Finally, we have a long-awaited new threat to our physical well-being is Monkeypox!
Why is it scary?
Well quite apart from the name – let’s be honest here, the idea of a Monkeypox probably takes your mind to a place where you are imagining “rabid” apes being tested on in labs, ironically that is sort of how this virus got its name! It was discovered in lab monkeys!
I know the big thing that makes a virus scary is if it is fatal, well this one is, but the mortality rate is pretty low between 1-10% of people who contract it will die. I think what is giving this virus its reputation is the dramatic rash that accompanies it. It is nasty looking! Although not in the same league as Ebola, you aren’t going to end up bleeding from every orifice! Also, the fact that it is an “exotic” virus probably adds to its mystique.
Speaking of Ebola what happened with that?
Well, the big outbreak of Ebola happened in three African countries. This is what made the disease “famous” those countries now have the condition under control. There will still be the odd case of it. It hasn’t been eradicated but you can probably just not worry about it! Despite its horrific symptoms and high mortality rate, due to the fact it turns your bodies defences against you, Ebola was never going to be a massive problem because it just wasn’t infectious enough. The virus spreads by infected blood. Had it become transmutable via the air, like the common cold or the Influenza virus then the world may have faced its extinction, fortunately, for now, that remains the realm of science-fiction.
Am I going to get it?
Probably not! There are about three cases in the UK at the time of writing. It’s not airborne or anything, that is when things get scary. It is mainly spread through the exchange of infected blood or fluids. However in Africa where it originated it has been transmitted by people handling an animal that has been infected. If this sounds familiar it is suggested that Ebola began being spread by “bush meat” the eating of animals such as bats and squirrels. So if a mate develops it just try and avoid kissing them!
If I do get it what is going to happen to me?
The symptoms are similar to the flu: Aches, pains, headaches, a fever. The rash comes later and can spread over your entire body. If it gets to your eyes it can cause real problems and even blindness. Monkeypox (which is a similar virus to smallpox) is going to be with you a while if you contract it, unfortunately. It will last anywhere between two to three weeks. The rash is nasty as previously mentioned and may well leave you looking like an extra from a bad horror movie.
So level with me, should I be scared?
Probably not. I mean the flu can kill people. We live in a pretty clean society and we have a good level of health care for our citizens. This alone means you will probably be fine if you do happen to be unlucky and catch it. To be quite honest unless you are planning on dining on African road-kill in the next few months I’d imagine the chances of you contracting it are about on par with you winning the lottery.