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Originally found in laboratory Asian monkeys in 158, monkeypox is one of the world’s most important zoonotic poxvirus infections. It is a rare viral disease that occurs mainly in the rain forests countries, belonging to the same family of viruses, orthopoxviruses, as cowpox, smallpox and buffalopox (Schneller). The disease was originally confined to Zaire and the African West Coast, it was in the 170’s that epidemics had begun to occur during the World Healthcare Organization’s smallpox eradication campaign. Monkeypox found itself among those poxvirus infections that are closely watched mainly because of its high mortality rate, 11% in children and 15% with infants (Lewis-Jones). While monkeys served as a host for this disease, they were only “seasonal hosts,” a more likely host is thought to be tree squirrels, and human conception of this pox virus comes from children, who are more greatly infected, who probably contracted the virus by playing with the squirrels. The virus that causes monkeypox was extracted from a squirrel believed to be the natural host (CDC). According to Susan Lewis-Jones, MD, animal poxviruses can cause human skin diseases as well as systemic illness. When contracted by humans this illness tends to create a vesicular and pustular rash that resembles that of smallpox (ADEH). Painful blisters and crusted eschars tend to make up the lesions and are usually self-limiting as well as being rarely fatal so long as treatment is undergone (Lewis-Jones). The lesions are usually slow healing and can leave pock-like scars.


Common symptoms to monkeypox include fever, cough, headache, myalgia, rash, or lymph node enlargement (MDCH). While the virus appears as a mild case of smallpox the major distinguishing feature is that of the lymph node enlargement. Other noticeable differences are the severe systemic flu-like illness, severe muscle pains, and gastrointestinal and pulmonary complications, which account for most of the deaths (Lewis-Jones). The disease runs its course in about to 4 weeks beginning with a fever, headache, muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes. By the third day, at the very least, the individual will begin to develop a rash, which tends to first appear on the face, lesions will develop, crust, and fall off as the disease concludes (CDC).


Monkeypox is spread to humans through contact with an infected animal, either from its bite or direct contact to its lesions or body fluids. Human to human infection is also possible with prolonged face-to-face contact, transmitted through the respiratory droplets. One human can also pass the virus on to another with contact of body fluids or with contaminated objects such as bed sheets and clothing (CDC).


As of June 14, this year, there has been, a total reported infected people in the United States of 81 people among the states of Wisconsin, with 4, Illinois, with 1, Indiana, with 6, and Ohio, with (CDC). This is the first outbreak to occur in the United States. Of these 81, 14 have been hospitalized and no deaths have yet been reported from Monkeypox. It is believed that the virus was spread to these people through contact with infected prairie dogs. Scientist have hypothesized that the prairie dog contracted the illness from coming in contact with an infected dormouse, rope squirrel or Gambian giant rat (imported from Africa), which may have been at the same pet shop.


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Currently there is no proven safe treatment of monkeypox however, use of the smallpox vaccine has been reported to reduce the risk of monkeypox. Appropriate treatment should be sought out to replace lost body fluid, and skin care should be received to prevent secondary sepsis (Lewis-Jones). The smallpox vaccine should be taken 14 days after coming into contact with an infected person or animal and while it may not prevent the virus, it can ease the severity of its symptoms.


The Schneller group, advised under Stewart W. Schneller, the Dean of the College of Sciences and Mathematics at Auburn University and a Professor of Chemistry, is working to find new antiviral agents to treat this disease. Through their research they are expecting not only to find a treatment for the monkeypox virus but also to get a foot in with new emerging infectious diseases.


Steps are being taken to keep the disease under control. The Department of Natural Resources has cautioned individuals about the risk of releasing prairie dogs, Gambian rats and other species into the environment. “Monkeypox is new to the Western Hemisphere, and it could possible become established in Michigan wildlife species if people were to release these animals into the environment. There is a great potential for harm if a reservoir of monkeypox were to develop here,” quoted Dr. Stephen Schmitt a Wildlife Veterinarian at the Department of Natural Resources. While there has not been a reported case of Monkeypox in Michigan, there are a few cases that are being studied for their potential. An emergency order has been called against the transportation, display, sale, and any distribution into the environment of certain animals. These animals are prairie dogs, Gambian giant rats, Brush-tailed porcupines, Dormice, Rabbits, Rope squirrels, Striped mice, and Tree squirrels (MDCH). In addition, all imports of animals from Africa have been prohibited.


Beyond the ban and control of these animals, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration as well as other agencies are working on other ways to prevent the spread of the Monkeypox virus. The Center for Disease control and Prevention has offered their aid to these agencies, and the following steps have been taken


 Activated Emergency Operations Center


 Deployed teams of medical officers, epidemiologists to states thought to have been exposed


 Extensive laboratory testing


 Ongoing assistance to state and local health departments


 Trace the origin and distribution of potentially infected animals


 Interim guidelines for veterinarians


 Interim U.S. case definition for human Monkeypox


Works Cited


Alaska. Department of Environmental Health. Information about the Monkey Pox


Outbreak. State Veterinarian. 00. Internet


www.state.ak.us/dec/deh/animal/monkeypox.htm


Lewis-Jones, Susan. “The Zoonotic Poxviruses.” Dermatology Nursing Journal


(00)


Michigan. Department of Community Health. Michigan Takes Additional


Precautions Against Monkeypox. 00. Internet


www.mighigan.gov/mdch/0,167-7-1�70061--,00.html


Schneller, Stewart W. Anti-Orthopoxvirus Drug Discovery and Development.


00. Internet


www.auburn.edu/academic/science_math/deans_research/poxweb.htm


United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Basic Information


about Monkeypox. Fact Sheet. Atlanta 00


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