The coronavirus pandemic may be starting to slow down, but the monkeypox outbreak is coming into full swing. If you work at a home healthcare agency or use home health care services or perhaps are planning to seek home health services soon, then you will need to know how to take care of a patient infected with the monkeypox virus.
In this article, we learn more about monkeypox, explore monkeypox symptoms and discuss tips to care for loved ones who may be infected. Let’s get started.
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a disease that is caused by the monkeypox virus. It has its origins in Africa, but has slowly spread across the world. The disease was discovered in 1958 and results in severe flu-like symptoms.
The monkeypox virus causes two types of outbreaks – one that emerged out of West Africa and the second that originated in Central Africa. The latter is more serious than the former. Luckily, the world is currently affected by the less-severe West African variant of monkeypox.
How is monkeypox transmitted?
Monkeypox is a zoonotic disease – a disease that can be transmitted between animals and humans. It is caused by a member of the family of Orthopoxvirus.
Monkeypox was initially observed in other non-human primates and rodents. It is believed to have spread to humans through contact with infected animal skin or infected animal bodily secretions. The reservoir host, i.e., the first ever animal to have hosted the monkeypox virus, but which remains unaffected by the disease, is as yet, unknown.
Today, a person can get infected with the monkeypox virus through skin-to-skin or bodily secretion contact with an already infected individual.
Who is most susceptible to monkeypox?
Surprisingly, the monkeypox virus has been observed very rapidly spreading amongst men who have sex with other men. Scientists don’t have clarity if monkeypox is a sexually transmitted disease, but the virus does exhibit transmission behaviors similar to other STDs like syphilis or herpes. In fact, 98% of infections have been observed in the gay/bisexual male community worldwide. A large chunk (74%) of this category of patients were recorded as having multiple sexual partners and a small group of this population (26%) were HIV positive.
However, anyone – irrespective of gender or sexual orientation & preferences – can become highly vulnerable to monkeypox. You would need to come in contact with an infected person’s bodily secretions – such as saliva, respiratory droplets, blood, sexual secretions, fluids from skin lesions/rashes, amniotic fluid (in the case of a fetus), etc. – to get monkeypox. You can get infected even if you handle items used by an already infected person (such as nappies, towels, condoms, uncleaned utensils, etc.)
Common symptoms of monkeypox
Monkeypox can result in the following symptoms that appear over a period between 5 days and 21 days –
· High fever
· Muscle ache
· Excessive tiredness
· Swelling in the lymph nodes
· Rashes (that slowly become pus-filled blisters and then form scabs)
· Nasal congestion, cough, or sore throat
How long does the infection last?
Usually, the monkeypox disease lasts for about 2-3 weeks. Typically, patients will notice the disease becomes less severe and then goes away on its own. But medical assistance may be necessary for people with severe symptoms or if the disease affects other medical conditions they may have.
Is monkeypox fatal?
So far, out of the recorded 57000 affected individuals, there have been 22 deaths. This accounts for a 0.04% fatality rate, which is significantly low compared to other infectious diseases like Covid19 (as high as 5.2% in some countries recently) and smallpox (30%).
But generally, monkeypox is not fatal and symptoms resolve within the month.
What does the monkeypox treatment include?
To date, no permanent cure has been found to eradicate the monkeypox virus. Since the monkeypox virus operates a lot like the smallpox virus, some doctors believe that vaccines similar to the smallpox vaccine may be effective in treating monkeypox. However, more research is needed to know how to fully treat and eradicate this dangerous disease.
Tips that caregivers in home care services should follow to care for monkeypox patients
The monkeypox virus has been observed to be alive and infectious for weeks after exiting the body (for ex – when it’s on a surface). It’s important to take extreme precautions to prevent transmission to healthy individuals.
If you are someone who is seeking home health care services from a home health care agency, it is important that you are aware of how to take care of a loved one with monkeypox. Even if you are a home healthcare provider, it’s very important to know what type of help to offer when your patient has monkeypox.
To help you, we’ve compiled a list of tips that you can follow, which are recommended by the likes of the CDC –
· Isolate the infected patient in a separate room and avoid going into the room unless absolutely necessary.
· Always wear a mask when around an infected person or if you are infected (the N95 mask is the best). Have the patient wear a mask too, if they need to use a public space at home. But make sure it is not face-fitted. The mask may break the blisters and worsen the infection and possibility of transmission.
· Stand at least 6+ feet away from the patient until you get a clean medical report.
· Don’t share any fabrics, utensils, razors, spectacles, soaps, creams, or other items if you or someone else has Monkeypox. Give the patient their dedicated utensils, fabrics, and other items, which they should discard or completely sanitize once the infection is gone.
· Avoid being in close physical contact with the infected patient.
· Don’t handle any items the infected person has used with bare hands.
· Wash the infected items and clean your entire home with strong disinfectant. Particularly focus on high-touch surfaces such as tabletops, switchboards, backs of sofas, etc.
· Don’t come in physical contact with pets if you are infected, and don’t physically handle any pets who may have been in close proximity with the infected person. Get your pets tested for monkeypox and if healthy, send them to someone else’s home for a few weeks.
· Avoid having sex with an infected individual or if you are infected. Don’t handle sex toys, condoms, or any other paraphernalia that may contain sexual secretions, with bare hands.
· Sleep in a separate bedroom and use a separate bathroom if possible. (Or, disinfect the bathroom every time the patient uses it. This includes the commode seat, taps & faucets, racks where soaps/shampoos/creams are stored, etc.)
· Carefully discard any bandages, diapers, or any other items that may come in contact with infected secretions, in a properly sealed bag.
· Use an alcohol-based handwash and clean your hands thoroughly. Wash all items you’ve touched with soap and water.
· Have the patient wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to cover the rashes & pus blisters. This will prevent the virus from spreading onto furniture and to someone else.
· Teach the patient how to change their own bandages, empty their own medical waste bins/canisters, and change their own clothes. When caregivers home care providers need to help patients with monkeypox, they should avoid excessive physical contact with the patient and disinfect and wash any personal items that may have come in contact with the patient during their service.
At 24-7 Home Health Care, we are equipped to help and support patients with monkeypox. Our team has in place robust medical practices and standards that will prevent transmission, without compromising on patient care. Contact us today to know more about our services.