We might very well have still been stuck in the COVID-19 phase if not for the fact that the vaccines seem to be working. Even the news cycles seemed to have moved on from the Cornovarius. With all eyes on the Russian-Ukrainian war, people have thrown caution to the wind in terms of maintaining community-wide precautionary measures.
While things seem to have been handled relatively well over time in most European countries and the US, the world is not prepared for the incidence of another viral pox, especially one that has managed to stay out of the headlines.
Most emergency medical service channels are still reeling from the heavy hits they suffered due to COVID-19, and very little can be said about their readiness to handle another pandemic. We sincerely hope it doesn't break out on a large scale before its embers are extinguished.
It seems like public opinion is slowly starting to simmer, as panic has gradually started spreading with news of a confirmed case already observed in the US and in most developed nations. The challenge is that EMS providers know too little about Monkeypox to adequately respond to a new crisis..
What is Monkeypox?
MonkeyPox is a rare illness categorized among the most serious viral diseases. It is a variation of the smallpox virus that we know already.
It is quite difficult to find patients infected with it as often as you might find a patient with a typical case of smallpox. Therefore, EMS services that focus on routine operations are unlikely to encounter it. At least for the present.
Where does it originate from? Scientists have traced its origins deep within Central Africa and West Africa. That means any incidence of the viral disease in other continents has been through international travel or via the importation of animals.
Like most viral diseases, it spreads through person-to-person contact. One similarity to COVID-19 is that it can also be transmitted through droplets of respiratory fluids. It is when people come in contact with the skin lesions of an infected patient or the person's bodily fluids. If the unaffected comes in contact with any material or clothing used by a patient, indirect contact might also lead to the spread of the disease.
Symptoms of Monkeypox
Here are a few signs and symptoms of monkeypox that EMS personnel can look out for:
- Fever and chills
- Sore muscles
- Bodily rashes (similar to chicken pox)
- Swollen lymph nodes
Most skin conditions can be seen visible on the palms of the hands.
Responding to Viral Cases
EMS agents must follow the guidelines published by NETEC to respond to the current Monkeypox outbreak.
- Priority must be given to recognizing the signs and symptoms of monkeypox, so offering general seminars to EMS professionals that detail the likely symptoms of the viral disease is highly recommended.
- EMS personnel must be aware of the risk factors of the disease
- Prevention of person-to-person mode of transmission (social distancing principles may apply in healthcare centers)
- Develop emergency drill procedures to handle the outbreak in industrial and residential areas efficiently.
What to expect from the MonkeyPox outbreak?
At this point, there has been no incidence of cross-border outbreaks. However, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the US has reported that multiple cases of monkeypox have been observed in countries where the disease hasn't been witnessed before.
It might be a sign that the virus will spread fast to countries like the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Sweden. North American nations like Canada and the US have only seen one case each. Unless adequate measures are implemented early, we might be set for another harrowing experience with Monkeypox.
Can MonkeyPox be fatal? The severity of the disease is unknown at the moment, but it could likely cause death in extreme cases.