The recent global outbreak of monkeypox virus has brought attention to treating the rare disease. While most cases are mild, treatment is important to reduce symptoms and limit transmission. Here is an overview of monkeypox treatment options currently available.
Vaccination against monkeypox is the most effective way to prevent the disease. The smallpox vaccine, known as ACAM2000, is approved for prevention of monkeypox in high-risk individuals. While the two viruses are closely related, the smallpox vaccine provides some cross-protection against monkeypox.
Two newer vaccines, JYNNEOS and IMVANEX, have been approved specifically for monkeypox prevention as well. JYNNEOS is a live, non-replicating vaccine given as two doses spaced four weeks apart for maximum effectiveness. IMVANEX is an attenuated live vaccine that requires two doses at least 4 weeks apart. Both are over 85% effective in preventing monkeypox.
Availability of these vaccines remains limited currently. Healthcare workers exposed to monkeypox and those with multiple sex partners are prioritized for vaccination. Public health officials are working to distribute supplies strategically to curb outbreak spread. Vaccination after exposure can also help reduce symptoms if given within 4 days of first exposure.
For individuals who develop monkeypox symptoms, antiviral treatment may be appropriate to alleviate discomfort and reduce contagiousness. Tecovirimat, sold under the brand name TPOXX, is an antiviral medication approved to treat human smallpox.
While not specifically FDA approved for monkeypox treatment, tecovirimat has demonstrated effectiveness against orthopoxviruses in clinical studies and is currently being used off-label for monkeypox patients who need treatment. It works by blocking the release of new virus particles from infected cells.
Tecovirimat is typically given twice daily for two weeks as oral pills or intravenous infusion, depending on disease severity. Treatment is most effective when initiated early in the course of symptoms. Side effects are usually mild but may include headache or nausea. Tecovirimat has shown potential to significantly shorten illness duration and decrease virus shedding when given appropriately.
Other Supportive Treatments
For most cases, supportive care measures are sufficient to manage monkeypox symptoms. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help alleviate pain, fever and rash irritation. Applying calamine lotion, anti-itch creams or taking lukewarm baths may soothe itchy skin rashes. Staying hydrated and getting rest is important for healing.
Secondary bacterial infections from open sores are a risk, so monitoring for signs of infection like increased pain, swelling or pus discharge is advised. Antibiotics may be necessary if a secondary infection develops. Avoiding scratching pox lesions prevents additional viral spread and scarring. Lesions should be kept clean and dry until fully crusted and healed.
Isolation is critical until all scabs have fallen off and a fresh layer of skin has formed to prevent transmitting the virus to other people or surfaces. Consulting a healthcare provider about any changing or worsening symptoms is also recommended.
With prompt treatment, most individuals fully recover from monkeypox within 2-4 weeks without long-term effects. However, some can face severe illness requiring hospitalization, especially those with weakened immune systems. Pregnant women and young children may also be at risk of complications.
By raising awareness of monkeypox signs, improving access to vaccines andprompt antiviral therapy, public health efforts aim to control this outbreak. Coordination between global health authorities will be key to curtailing further spread. With continued prevention strategies and care for those infected, experts hope to contain monkeypox and prevent it from becoming endemic in new areas.
- Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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