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Monkeypox In Children: Symptoms To Watch Out For And More Details

The monkeypox virus is an orthopoxvirus that causes a disease with symptoms similar to smallpox but less severe. Monkeypox is a zoonosis, or a disease transmitted from animals to humans. The virus is commonly found in tropical rainforests, where there are animals that carry the virus. Monkeypox has been detected in animals such as squirrels, Gambian poached rats, dormice, and various species of monkeys, among others [1][2].

Human-to-human transmission is rare; the longest documented chain of transmission is six generations, which means that the last person infected in this chain is six links away from the original infected individual.

Infection can be transmitted through contact with bodily fluids, lesions on the skin, or mucosal surfaces, such as those in the mouth and throat, and via respiratory droplets and contaminated objects.

Monkeypox In Children: Everything You Need To Know

Although monkeypox symptoms are quite easy to identify in adults, the task becomes more difficult in children since the early signs are similar to smallpox and chickenpox [3].

What are the symptoms of monkeypox in children?

Rash, fever, and body aches are the most common symptoms of pox diseases [4].

In addition to lymph node swellings, monkeypox infections may also result in severe exhaustion. Initially, a raised spot begins on the face and spreads to the palms and feet and later develops into a blister filled with fluid and scabs that fall off. Symptoms may last between two and four weeks.

According to health experts, some of the most common early symptoms of monkeypox are as follows [5]:

  • Moderate to high fever
  • Rashes
  • Body aches
  • Lymph nodes
  • Excessive tiredness

Rashes: Parents should be aware that monkeypox symptoms begin to manifest on the second or third day following the onset of the infection. Rashes of this type usually begin on the face and then spread to the hands, palms, and feet. They are usually fluid-filled.

Fever: According to experts, children with monkeypox viral fever have a significantly higher fever than adults. The fever usually remains at 101 to 102 degrees. If you notice any of these symptoms in your child, please seek immediate medical attention.

How is monkeypox different in children as compared to adults?

The fever in children, as compared to adults, is generally higher (reaching 102 F) on days 2-3.

Typically, the rash appears on day 3 or 4 and gradually progresses. In children, there is a greater likelihood of weakness and exhaustion. However, headaches are seldom reported. Therefore, hydration and fluid management with antipyretics are necessary for children.

How To Prevent Monkeypox In Children?

  • One of the most important preventive measures is hand hygiene (soap and water for 20 seconds or alcohol-based hand sanitiser) [6].
  • Transmission from animal to human should be prevented.
  • Be sure to thoroughly cook meat.
  • Avoid any contact with a person who has a rash or fever.
  • Avoid contact with any fluid or object from a sick patient.

What Do Experts Have To Say?

Dr David Porter, the paediatric infectious diseases consultant at NHS Foundation Trust, stated that parents who have a child who develops a rash need not be concerned about whether it could be monkeypox because they are seeing a very low number of cases [7].

In all previous outbreaks outside of Africa over the last few years, there have been only a few children who have contracted this virus, so it is almost exclusively a problem for adults.

"And without any contact history with somebody that's known or strongly felt to have monkeypox, and then if you've got a rash at this time of year when we've seen lots of rashes from chickenpox and other things in children, hand, foot and mouth disease, then that's what it's likely to be," the expert added [8].

On A Final Note...

While monkeypox is a rare and mild infection in children, it can mimic the more common chickenpox. With the lockdown easing, parents should be vigilant about viral infections, experts advise.

Story first published: Friday, May 27, 2022, 16:00 [IST]
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