2 07 2010

This blog is a long time coming. We heard about monkeypox a few years ago and wanted to write it up just so we could use the word “monkeypox.”

Turns out, monkeypox the disease isn’t as funny as the word. When infected, one gets a blistery rash similar to smallpox. In areas of Africa where the virus is endemic, one to 10 percent of human cases end in death.

Although the virus was first detected in monkeys, other animals can become infected, including humans

The first outbreak of monkeypox detected in the U.S. was in 1993 and probably started with animals imported from Africa infecting pet prairie dogs, who then infected humans.

Monkeypox can be transmitted in unusual ways, including through the consumption of bushmeat—legal (or illegal) wild animal meat imported to cities in Europe and the U.S.

There’s no specific treatment for monkeypox and prevention methods are the usual: handwashing, avoid sick animals, and practice standard, contact, and airborne precautions.

Turns out monkeypox just isn’t funny.

Meningitis Belt

11 05 2009
Town crier announcing the vaccination campaign Niger 2009 © Olivier Asselin

Town crier announcing the vaccination campaign Niger 2009 © Olivier Asselin

Grief is no stranger to families in the “meningitis belt” of Africa.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 1,900 people in the belt have died and tens of thousands have been affected. 

The sub-Saharan countries of Niger, Nigeria and Chad have been hit particularly hard these past few months.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported “…dozens of MSF teams, together with health authorities, are performing vaccination campaigns throughout these countries to reduce the impact of the epidemic. Meanwhile, other MSF teams are travelling to urban and remote health centers to collect data, review and treat patients, and donate medicines.”

Vaccination has to happen to stop this disease, but we can’t overlook the huge efforts they’re making to treat the infected.  They’re succeeding and they’re saving lives.  Without treatment, up to 50 percent of people infected with bacterial meningitis will die.

MSF workers deserve PKIDs’ Stamp of Excellence for their work in this outbreak.