Skin rash and flu, the common symptoms of both monkey and chicken pox have caused confusion among the public, although doctors have stressed that there is a difference in the way the symptoms of viral diseases manifest in patients.
They have advised to consult a doctor to clear doubts.
Monkey pox is a viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted from animals to humans) that, although clinically less severe, has symptoms similar to those seen in the past in smallpox patients.
During the monsoons, people are more prone to viral infections and during this time chicken pox cases are often seen along with other infections, which also show symptoms like rash and nausea, said Dr Ramanjit Singh, Consultant Dermatology, Medanta Hospital.
“Due to this situation, some patients get confused and misunderstand chicken pox and monkey pox. A patient can determine whether they have monkey pox or not by understanding the sequence and onset of symptoms,” said Dr. Ramanjit Singh.
To explain further, monkey pox usually begins with fever, malaise, headache, sometimes sore throat and cough, and lymphadenopathy (lymph nodes), all of which appear four days before skin lesions, rashes, and other problems. Spread over eyes and body.
Other experts agree and apart from the skin involvement, there are other symptoms in case of monkey pox, but it is always better to consult a doctor to clear any doubts.
In a couple of recent reported cases, two suspected cases of monkey flu turned out to be chicken pox.
A suspect with monkeypox, who was admitted to Lok Naik Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital (LNJP) in Delhi last week with fever and injuries, tested negative for the infection but was diagnosed with chicken pox. Similarly, an Ethiopian national who had visited Bengaluru was tested for monicypox but was confirmed to have smallpox.
India has so far reported four cases of monkey flu – three from Kerala and one from Delhi. Dr Satish Koul, Director, Internal Medicine, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, says, “In monkey fever, the lesions are larger than in smallpox. In monkey fever, the lesions appear on the palms and soles. Days but not in monkeypox. The lesions are vesicular and itchy in chikungunya. Dr. Satish Kaul said that in monkey fever, the duration of fever is longer and the lymph nodes are enlarged in such a patient.
Elaborating on the virus that causes chicken pox, Dr SCL Gupta, Medical Director, Batra Hospital, said chicken pox is a ribonucleic acid (RNA) virus, which is not so severe but can lead to skin eruptions. “It is the season of chicken pox. Generally, during the rainy season, there is humidity, rise in temperature, waterlogging, dampness and wet clothes, all of which lead to the growth of the virus.
“Also, there is a religious aspect associated with this disease. People consider it a ‘deity’, so such patients are not treated with any medicine. They are isolated and given time to recover,” he said.
Talking about monkey pox, Dr SCL Gupta explained that such a virus requires an animal host but is self-limiting with sore throat, fever and normal viral symptoms.
“The main symptom of this virus is eruptions with fluids in the body. This leads to viral infection, which weakens the body’s resistance. But complications arise from its complication. Any bacterial infection leads to pus and blisters. It causes further complications in the body. “Now, monkey pox is in its juvenile phase. has We don’t have the right treatment. We are isolating the suspected patient and treating them according to their symptoms. In case of throat infection, we use generic medicines that we usually take. So, here it is a case of symptomatic treatment,” he said.
Doctors have also received questions about whether a previous chickenpox infection makes a patient immune to monicapox, and the answer is a resounding no.
Dr Rajinder Kumar Singhal, senior director and head of department at BLK Max Hospital, New Delhi, said both are caused by different viruses, the mode of transmission is different, and previous infection does not confer any protection against new ones. But he emphasized that people who received the smallpox vaccine were less likely to get monkey flu.
“Smallpox vaccination was stopped after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the disease had been completely eradicated by 1979-80. People born before 1980 who received the smallpox vaccine were less likely to get monkeypox. Viruses from the same family,” added Dr. Rajinder Kumar Singhal.
Because of this similarity between smallpox and monkeypox, several countries have allowed ‘smallpox’ vaccines to be administered, but not yet in India. “The virus is in its young stage and doctors are still discovering it,” Dr SCL Gupta added.
(Other than the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)
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