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As the contagious monkeypox virus spread to over 12 countries, experts around the world are urging people to remain vigilant about the infection. While it has already been informed that the virus spread from one infected individual to another through body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials such as bedding, some experts have stated that an infected individual is capable of spreading the virus for up to 4 weeks. Yes, you read that right. After showing the first symptoms of the virus infection, an infected person can transmit or pass on the virus to others for up to four weeks after symptoms appear.
Speaking to the media, Amesh Adalja, an emerging infectious diseases expert at John Hopkins University said that people who get infected by the monkeypox virus initially suffer a fever before skin rashes and lesions appear on the face and body. The monkeypox virus then spread to others through touching physical touches, or via droplets expelled in coughs and sneezes. "It can take a few weeks for the skin lesions to disappear. People are contagious until their active skin lesions have dissipated," he said.
"Based on previous monkeypox outbreaks and guidance from [UK health authorities] and WHO, the infectious period (i.e. when the virus can be transmitted to another person) can be comparable to the time period where the rash and blisters are present," said Michael Head, a global health expert at Southampton University in England. "This may be for two weeks, and may be longer," he further added.
Monkeypox virus belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus in the family Poxviridae which also includes variola virus (the virus that causes smallpox), vaccinia virus (the vaccine used in the treatment for smallpox), and cowpox virus. Monkeypox virus infection typically causes fever accompanied by chills, skin rash, and lesions on the face or genitals. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates the disease is fatal for up to one in 10 people.
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