Monkeypox outbreak; it is a new pandemic? Are aviation services to be halted again, and is the world to witness yet another lockdown? This article aims to answer all your questions!
Since Monkeypox cases are rising day by day, it has become a hot topic throughout the world, but now you must be wondering what that has to do with air travellers and tourists. Yes, there is a well-built link between aviation and such dangerous airborne diseases - As you might know already! There are some alarming points air travellers should keep in view for their own wellbeing. Here is everything you need to know!
What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare viral disease caused by the Monkeypox virus. It is an enveloped double-stranded DNA virus that belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus in the family Poxviridae, the same as that of smallpox and cowpox. Its first histological evidence originated from Central and West Africa in the 1950s. It is usually a self-limiting disease with symptoms lasting for 2 to 3 weeks but, in some cases, becomes severe. Its incubation period is 5 to 20 days. The infection is less severe, with a mortality rate of around 1% to 10%, and the spread is also moderate, being the most prominent in remote areas.
7 Must-Know Symptoms of Monkeypox
To know whether you have the recent monkeypox virus, there are some symptoms you should be looking for. This disease has its very own characteristics and distinctive symptoms. The disease is characterized by fever, swollen lymph nodes, and widespread rash and itching. Rashes usually appear on the face and limbs of the patient. Other symptoms also include;
- Intense Headache
- Lymphadenopathy (swelling of lymph nodes)
- Muscle ache (Myalgia)
- Exhaustion (asthenia)
- Fluid-filled painful lesions
The question that arises is how Monkeypox is any different from other viruses despite having very similar symptoms? Even Though Monkeypox has similar symptoms as Herpes, Chickenpox, Syphilis, and Smallpox, it still has its own identity, with swollen lymph nodes being the differentiating and distinctive feature. Secondary infections and immune deficiencies can worsen these symptoms. In severe complications, there is the involvement of the central nervous system and airways compromise.
How Is Monkeypox Transmitted?
The most common cause of Monkeypox spread is close contact with the infected person or animal. The evidence of the virus is found in many animals like rats, squirrels, termites, and as the name suggests, many species of monkeys. It may also be caused by a bite or scratch by an infected animal or by eating uncooked meat. Spread occurs by the entry of the virus through blood, broken skin, mucous membrane, respiratory droplets, fomites, and contaminated clothes and beddings. It is an airborne infection that can be spread over distances less than 1 meter. In order to prevent the spread, the patients are advised to isolate themselves for 2 to 3 weeks so that the symptoms fade away. Monkeypox is believed not to be spread sexually but through close contact.
How Can Air Traveling Escalate To Monkeypox?
Since we know that Monkeypox is an airborne infection that can easily spread to nearby areas of infection, it can also spread by being in contact with the infected person.
However, in order to understand the connection between air travel and the escalating of the virus, it is important for you to understand that travelling is a lot more than it sounds. It requires a lot of social contacts, meeting and greeting people from all around the world. Above all, breathing the same air in the plane for so long can become the reason why air travel can trigger Monkeypox further. Not to forget, the close sitting arrangement can make an affected person come in contact with a healthy person causing them to catch the virus too.
Hence such airborne infections have no trouble in getting their way into the bodies of the travellers and ailing them. So air travellers might be at a great risk if they sit next to an infected person on a plane or meet any infected person in the boarding process.
Since you have the knowledge about the widespread of this infection above, you should be careful of some measures that can help you protect yourself and your loved ones from this painful disease. The risk of acquiring Monkeypox is higher in Africa, especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria, where the cases are usually higher; hence these areas should only be visited if necessary in times of high cases so that the rate of disease spread is not expanding.
Aviation Risking the Escalation of Monkeypox
Monkeypox belongs to the same family of viruses as that smallpox, but it is milder and less severe. It is also transmitted through respiratory passages, but it is not as severe or as infectious as Covid-19. But still, the air travellers and tourists should pay attention to some measures as Monkeypox can cause several complications. Travellers and Tourists should try to cut back on their tours and voyages in such infectious situations. Aviation should be reduced. So if we talk about the current outbreak, it is frequently visited countries which includes confirmed or suspected cases such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, France, Canada, Australia, Germany, and the Netherlands. Hence travellers should make wise decisions in order to visit such areas. If not taken seriously, disease spread can go on vast levels because of spreads throughout many countries. If infected travellers keep visiting different cities and countries without self-isolating themselves, they can transmit it throughout wide regions, and that is how usually airborne diseases are spread.
Top 9 Measures To Be Taken In Aviation in Order to Avoid Monkeypox
To avoid the widespread of this infection, the travellers should take protective measures against Monkeypox that are they should induce protocols.
- N95 masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) should be used while in aviation.
- Proper gloves and gear should be worn while handling an infected animal.
- Cuts should be prevented from any sort of infectious contact in order to prevent viral entry into the blood.
- Close contact with adjacent passengers should be prevented.
- Products of sick passengers should be avoided, like their food, lotions, creams, clothes, makeup, etc.
- Unnecessary wandering in the airport and airplane should be avoided.
- Travellers should prevent contact with dead or live wild animals.
- Air passengers should keep in mind the fact that there is no vaccine discovered and no specific treatment for this infection to date.
- Some antiviral drugs show some action against Monkeypox, such as cidofovir, brincidofovir, and tecovirimat.
If it is inevitable for a person not to aviate, the administration of a vaccine for smallpox may also help in defence averse to Monkeypox.
But now you must be thinking, why is the vaccine for smallpox being administered as prevention for Monkeypox? Well, it is 85% effective in the case of Monkeypox. Travellers should practise and maintain good hygiene so that if there is any accidental contact of the traveller with a patient, he might tend not to acquire the disease, as maintaining personal cleanliness provides immunity against diseases.
What Can Be The Role Of An Air Traveler In Reducing Monkeypox?
Air travellers can also play an important role in reducing their exposure to the virus by educating the neighbouring passengers about Monkeypox and its protective measures.
But what if the travellers themselves observe any of the above-mentioned signs and symptoms? What are they supposed to do?
If travellers or tourists notice any of the already mentioned characteristic symptoms of Monkeypox, especially the Blistering of skin and swelling of lymph nodes, they should isolate themselves and apply soothing lotions on rashes to ease the pain. They should cut off unnecessary connections and activities with normal people to prevent the spread of infection. Isolation is recommended in this case.
They should remain in the City or Country in which they were affected until and unless no more symptoms appear. People travelling to endemic areas should avoid contact with the local animals, and they should also avoid eating uncooked food. Travellers should avoid markets and farms. If dealing with an animal is necessary, they should wear proper gloves and gear. Sanitisers should be used habitually if you have been around a sick person or animal.
Good hygiene and a balanced diet can make a traveller more immune to such infections, so you better take care of your health.
Since aviation is the greatest source of travelling all around the world, it is also the greatest source of worldwide infection spread; there is no denying that it can cause a great spread of these contagious diseases. So you have it all with its pros and cons. The only thing one can contribute to this situation is to take care of all the measures and check ourselves regularly for all the signs and symptoms to save ourselves and our loved ones from these life-threatening diseases and infections. Travellers from all around the world should keep all the important points in their mind so that they can refrain themselves and others from such health-harming diseases.
Although the talk about mandatory quarantines and vaccines are spreading again to the surface. We hope that Aviation will not be severely affected by this virus as was the case with COVID-19.
For airline pilots out there, don't forget to always stay healthy! Here are 5 helpful tips!
Monkeypox is still new, and doctors and scientists will require time to figure out solutions to cure the disease; until then, you need to take your own precautions! Stay safe!