1. Contact with infected monkeys
Monkeypox is caused by a virus. The virus has been previously isolated in animals like monkeys, rats and squirrels. Human outbreaks are more likely to be spread from infected animals than from a human to another human. Close contact with infected monkeys can spread the virus to humans. Monkeys are sometimes hunted in rural areas, and touching an infected monkey, even a dead monkey can make a person contracts the disease.
2. Contact with infected rodents
Rodents like rats and squirrels can transmit the monkeypox virus to human beings if they are infected. The virus is present in the blood, body fluids and secretions of infected rodents. Close contact with these mammals when infected can increase the chances of a human outbreak.
3. Bites and scratches from infected animals
The virus is usually found in the blood and body fluids of infected animals including saliva. A bite or scratch can cause skin breakage and lead to the transfer of the virus from the infected animal to a human.
4. Eating inadequately cooked meat
In some parts of Nigeria, rodents are consumed as ‘bush-meat’. In fact, it is a known delicacy. Eating rodents during a monkeypox outbreak can increase the likelihood of contracting the disease, because a dead infected rodent can still contain the virus. As a rule, all meat should be properly cooked, as this can decrease the likelihood of getting infected, thorough cooking kills the virus.
5. Contact with respiratory secretions of an infected person
Monkeypox can be spread by respiratory droplets or secretions. An example is a sneeze. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, thousands of respiratory droplets are released into the air. This is why infected persons are usually treated in isolation wards to prevent the transmission of the virus to members of the public.
6. Contact with blood, body fluids, rash of an infected person
Contact with body fluids of an infected person can spread the virus. Examples of body fluids are saliva, tears and urine. Also, touching a monkeypox rash can increase the chances of getting infected with the disease. This puts health workers at particular risk of getting infected. It was reported that a doctor was also infected by the current outbreak in Bayelsa. Health professionals often come in contact with blood and body fluids of ill patients while caring for them and hence are at a relatively increased risk of getting infected by the virus.
How to avoid being infected
Avoid eating monkey meat for now
Cook all animal products thoroughly
Avoid body contact with an infected person
Say no to unnecessary touching like handshakes
Maintain very high index of suspicion
Health officers must use protective devices, such as hand gloves
Report to the hospital if you observe strange feeling
Wash your hands regularly
During slaughtering of animal, avoid contact with the animal’s fluid
Avoid food items like monkey meat, particularly if not properly cooked
Avoid roasting of monkey meat prior to consumption as most, not all, of the bacteria are destroyed by heat