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Monkeypox: Are Seniors Safe from the New Virus?

Several aspects of our day-to-day lives have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. But now, we can partake in a few things we were incapable of doing mostly during outbreaks thanks to the widely accessible vaccinations and booster shots. Unfortunately, the monkeypox outbreak is yet another virus that is beginning to pose a danger to the public's health and welfare.

Although the monkeypox virus is typically native to Central and Western Africa, numerous cases have recently been reported worldwide, in nations where even the virus is not often prevalent. The emergence of monkeypox has since been deemed a national health crisis by the World Health Organization (WHO) that might potentially affect our elderly loved ones.

What Is Monkeypox?

In general terms, monkeypox is a viral zoonotic illness, noting that it is caused by a virus that is spread from an infected animal to an individual. Transmission from one person to another does happen, although it is not believed to occur frequently. Also, the monkeypox virus infection is also clinically less dangerous than the COVID-19 virus while having symptoms resembling those of people who have had smallpox. Rodents are considered to constitute the most possible culprit of the disease, despite the possibility that its native hosts have not yet been confirmed.

Every one of these illnesses results in a distinct skin rash that may also be preceded by fever, headaches, muscle pain, swollen lymph nodes, respiratory symptoms, and fatigue. While the primary method of transmission of the monkeypox virus is bodily fluids like saliva and sperm, direct skin-to-skin contact, persistent exposure to huge respiratory secretions, or direct contact with infested things like infected people's clothes or bedding.

Furthermore, the symptoms of monkeypox typically endure for 2 to 4 weeks and the infection is self-limited. Children have a higher likelihood to experience severe symptoms, which are correlated with the patient's health state, the severity of symptoms, and the level of viral exposure. The effects could be severe if underlying immunological deficits exist. Despite the fact that smallpox vaccination provided protection in the past, individuals between the ages of 40 to 50 may now be particularly vulnerable to monkeypox owing to the global halt of the routine smallpox vaccination initiatives following the virus' elimination.

Monkeypox in Singapore

Earlier until 2022, there had only been a few reported cases of monkeypox from outside endemic states, of which the majority were associated with travelling. Meanwhile, the m monkeypox infections have been steadily rising since May 2022 in formerly non-endemic nations, thus according to reports.

And since August 10, 2022, 15 cases of monkeypox had been identified in Singapore ever since the epidemic's inception this year, as reported by the Ministry of Health (MOH). To stop local transmission, protocols requiring contact tracing and patient isolation have been implemented. However, as Singapore eases travel restrictions put in place even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of cases of monkeypox inside the country is likely to further increase.

Is Monkeypox an Alarming Issue for the Elderly Too?

Although anyone can get monkeypox, getting infected requires persistent close contact with a sick person or contaminated items. But since most members of the general public are thought to be at minimal risk, there is a higher chance of contracting the disease if one has close, extended contact with someone who is infected.

Those who are regarded to be at high risk include individuals who are immunocompromised, under the age of 8, pregnant, or in the elderly demographic. Here are some things you might bear in mind regarding the threat posed by monkeypox in elders, which is still present despite being far less severe and contagious than the COVID-19 virus:

  • Seniors who have comorbid conditions are at greater risk.

  • Seniors with extensive contact histories are also at increased risk.

  • Although seniors should be vigilant and attentive, the risk of viruses is generally the same for all age groups.

  • Creating a healthy lifestyle and maintaining physical fitness are beneficial approaches to reducing risk.

  • Few elderly people are infected with the virus and only a handful of cases.

How Do Seniors Stay Safe With the Rising Risk of Infection?

And although someone does not, however, belong to the group with the highest risk of contracting the disease, deadly diseases all have a starting population where they first appear and can spread as they change. Your senior loved ones can protect themselves from Monkeypox even if they are living alone or in an assisted living facility by using a variety of precautions we've learned about from the COVID-19 global pandemic:

  • Staying away from someone who exhibits disease symptoms when it comes to face-to-face or skin-to-skin contact with an infected person.

  • The application of respiratory decorum and hygiene practices like proper hand washing.

  • Preventing contact with wild creatures, particularly sick or deceased ones that might be human monkeypox disease carriers.

  • Get immunized, which is really necessary. In addition to the smallpox vaccine, there are several Monkeypox vaccine that can be employed to prevent the illness.

Additionally, you should get in touch with your primary care physician or perhaps another healthcare professional if you see a developing rash on the body of your elderly loved one. Seeking medical advice is crucial since the rash from monkeypox might resemble that of other illnesses. Before visiting an urgent care facility, contact your elderly loved one's physician.

Are Vaccines Available for Monkeypox?

When they contract monkeypox, most individuals only experience a mild infection and don't need medical attention. To treat rash-related pain, several individuals may require over-the-counter medicine. Furthermore, there are now smallpox vaccination campaigns in place that can defend from monkeypox and other pox viruses, unlike in circumstances when COVID-19 first emerged as a pandemic.

The United States Food and Drug Administration has approved the Jynneos vaccine to limit the spread of the monkeypox virus. The vaccination can be a useful strategy for preventing monkeypox disease when given either prior to or after exposure. The vaccines are presently only given to persons who have previously contracted the virus or have already been infected with monkeypox, as well as to immunocompromised individuals.

Keeping Your Elders Free of Monkeypox

Elderly patients, especially those who reside in an old folks home should seek immediate medical attention as early as they exhibit monkeypox-related signs and symptoms or suspect they have been exposed to the disease. Even if they shouldn't be overly concerned, elders should nevertheless be aware of their surroundings and take the necessary safety precautions.

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