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How does Monkeypox Spread and Guidelines to Ensure Workplace Safety

7 min read
Published on 16 August, 2022

The whole world suffered a setback when covid-19 caught all of us unprepared. The repercussions of the latter are still present today, and it will take some time for things to recover. The pandemic has had far-reaching effects on economic activity, jobs, and our way of life. All these stressors, in turn, affect employee health.

Now Monkeypox has sparked unprecedented outbreaks worldwide. Proving once again how an infectious agent in one place may turn into a global disaster.

Occupational wellness and health must be a priority for employers. A healthy and productive workforce is what drives a company towards success. Since so many individuals spend their time at work, employee health and well-being should be focused upon.

Monkeypox disease control and prevention measures should be taken into account. Employers should immediately introduce such efforts into employee wellness programs and ensure a safe working environment.

Suggested read The Impact Of COVID-19 On Employee Wellbeing And What Employers Can Do

What is Monkeypox?

What-is-Monkeypox-

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. It belongs to the same viral family as smallpox. It is considerably less severe, and experts think the odds of infection are minimal.

It is typically found near tropical rainforests in remote areas of central and west African countries. Since the beginning of the year, there have been over 1,200 instances of Monkeypox in those areas.

The monkeypox virus has two separate strains: the central African (Congo Basin) strain and the west African strain. The west African variant is circulating in other parts of the world.

Origin of Monkeypox

The illness was discovered in a colony of monkeys housed for study in 1958. Later, the virus was dubbed Monkeypox (MPX). It is infectious and may be passed from non-human primates to people or vice versa.

In 1970, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) reported the first human case of Monkeypox. When a case of the virus was reported in the United States of America in 2003, it spread outside Africa. Contact with sick pet prairie dogs was connected to the case.

More than 80 countries where Monkeypox is not endemic have reported viral disease outbreaks. The World Health Organization has declared Monkeypox a global health emergency. Confirmed cases have crossed 26,500, and non-endemic countries reported their first deaths.

How does Monkeypox Spread?

How-does-Monkeypox-Spread-

Because the virus may spread in various ways, restricting your person-to-person contact isn't enough, and it is more about being cautious about maintaining hygiene.

Human-to-Human Transmission

The virus is believed to be spread by large respiratory droplets. It requires prolonged contact or proximity between humans. It can also be spread by exposure to bodily fluids or lesion material.

Furthermore, this virus can be transferred by indirect contact with lesion material. Contaminated clothing or linens from an affected individual may be a few sources.

Suggested read Bringing Awareness of TB by Celebrating World Tuberculosis Day at Your Workplace

Animal-to-Human Transmission

Apart from contracting the disease from another person, humans can get it through bites or scratches by an infected animal. These include small mammals such as rodents (rats, squirrels), non-human primates (monkeys, apes), or bush meat eating.

Symptoms

Symptoms

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Monkeypox symptoms may start 5 to 21 days after exposure. The time between when you're exposed and when you have symptoms is called the incubation period.

Monkeypox symptoms last 2 to 4 weeks and may include:

  • Fever

  • Skin rash

  • Headache

  • Muscle aches and backaches

  • Chills

  • Tiredness

  • Swollen lymph nodes

A skin rash appears 1 to 4 days after you get a fever. The monkeypox rash commonly begins on the face, hands, or feet before spreading to other regions. The monkeypox rash progresses through several phases, and flat patches develop into blisters. The blisters fill with pus, scab over, and fall off over 2 to 4 weeks.

You can spread the infection while having symptoms. From the time your symptoms begin until the time your rash and scabs heal.

If you get a new rash or other monkeypox symptoms, consult your doctor as soon as possible, even if you don't know someone who has it.

Monkeypox has the potential to undermine workplace wellbeing. Communicable infections pose a risk, particularly to employees who work at the office because they may unintentionally come in touch with those exposed to or afflicted with a virus.

Guidelines to Ensure Workplace Safety

Employers should consider taking proactive steps against Monkeypox. It is necessary to understand how Monkeypox spreads. So employers can enhance and reinforce safety protocols already in place from the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Keep an Eye on Virus Developments from Credible Sources

Employers should check the information given by-

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CDC (Centers for Disease Control)

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WHO (World Health Organisation)

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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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U.S. Department of State

Frequent checks should be done for up-to-date and credible information, much like during the COVID-19 epidemic. Current updates should be easier to find due to the information infrastructure that public health organizations and local governments created during COVID-19.

Employers might consider directing staff to these resources to mitigate monkeypox fear. Misinformation on online platforms and associated stigma is another such concern.

2. Assess the Nature of the Business

Depending on the nature of the business, the monkeypox crisis might have far-reaching consequences, affecting commercial transactions, contracts with other parties, and supply chains.

Retail firms, for example, with a high number of touch surfaces and face-to-face contact with customers. It would have slightly different considerations than organizations that solely engage remote employees.

3. Implement a Policy on Employee Monkeypox Exposure and Diagnosis

Like during the COVID-19 pandemic, employees who get Monkeypox or had close contact with someone diagnosed with Monkeypox or are exposed to a virus-infected environment should not have to come to work.

In that scenario, they should watch closely for monkeypox symptoms. The incubation period is usually a 21-day interval. Many businesses have already mandated COVID-19 self-monitoring for their employees. Employees must examine whether they have any virus symptoms and, if so, not report to work.

Employers may also consider upgrading their self-monitoring procedures to incorporate all the signs. Employees who display monkeypox symptoms should seek medical advice. Diagnosis and treatment should be in correspondence with their healthcare professional.

You may read 5 Excellent Wellness Activities For Remote Employees.

4. Promote Anti-Discrimination Policies

There was severe and pervasive anti-Asian prejudice during the COVID outbreak. Monkeypox is primarily found in central and western Africa. It is also often transmitted during male-male intercourse.

Thus there is the risk of discrimination based on race, country of origin, and sexual orientation. Employers must be alert to prevent this from happening in the workplace. They can promote non-discrimination rules and respond quickly to discrimination complaints.

5. Prevent Infection in the Workplace

Employees should take adequate preventative measures in the workplace to avoid the spread of Monkeypox and other infectious diseases such as COVID-19, the flu, or even a cold.

Encourage frequent handwashing/sanitizing, and ask employees to wear personal protective equipment such as masks/face coverings and gloves. Also, undertake regular cleaning and disinfection of the workplace. Advise employees to seek medical care as soon as symptoms of Monkeypox arise.

Employers should adopt more flexible work policies where employees are not discouraged from working from home during mild symptoms.

Monkeypox Treatment

Monkeypox is often a self-limiting illness, with symptoms lasting two to four weeks. The majority of persons with Monkeypox recover without treatment. Following a diagnosis, your healthcare practitioner will check your condition and attempt to ease your symptoms. Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat any secondary bacterial infections that may arise.

There is no authorized antiviral treatment for Monkeypox at the moment. Many experimental antivirals with anti-monkeypox activity are available but only as a part of a research trial.

How Do I Take Care of Myself as a Corporate Employee?

If you have monkeypox symptoms, here are some ways to help you feel better, including:

  • Pain relievers and fever reducers can help you feel better (Always consult your doctor before consuming).

  • Take oatmeal baths. A warm bath with colloidal oatmeal might help ease the dry, itchy feeling associated with skin rashes.

  • If you are infected, isolate yourself. Contact with others should be avoided till all of your lesions have scabbed.

  • Cover individual or localized lesions. Use gauze or bandages to restrict the spread to people and the environment.

  • Take excellent care of yourself. When you're sick, staying home and healing are essential. Wear a mask around others, and stay hydrated.

  • Avoid contact with pets (especially rodents).

Suggested read The Need For Corporate Fitness In The Covid-19 World

Takeaway

Currently, the monkeypox virus does not appear to be a concern in the workplace. Even though the disease is "not another COVID." Experts strongly warn corporations to exercise caution and counsel afflicted employees. Also, ask the employees who have been exposed to isolate themselves.

Employers learned an important lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic. It is critical to have a documented strategy to keep employees safe and demonstrate actions to keep employees healthy. While a full monkeypox policy may be early, you should consider drafting a written infectious disease policy that may be implemented if Monkeypox or other communicable disease epidemic occurs.

This article is written by Rithika Sarmah. Besides working as a Content Writer at Vantage Circle, she is an inquisitive reader who enjoys learning about human anatomy and physiology. In her leisure hours, she hums to the melody of her guitar and captures snapshots of her best moments. To get in touch, contact editor@vantagecircle.com

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