As monkeypox infections increase with each passing day, fear around its symptoms, especially painful rashes that appear in the neck, armpits, or groin, raises fears of the zoonotic viral infection. Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, back pain, myalgia (muscle pain) and severe asthenia (lack of energy), swollen lymph nodes and rash. Its incubation period (interval between infection and the appearance of symptoms) can vary from 5 to 21 days. (Also read: Monkeypox in India; experts on advice to manage symptoms)
Experts say monkeypox infection in children is mild but can become serious in some cases.
“The rash begins as flat spots that turn into bumps, which then fill with fluid. They later scab over and fall off as they heal. Sometimes spots that look like pimples or blisters may develop before have other symptoms The rash tends to be more concentrated on the face and extremities rather than the trunk Usually affected children may feel better in 2 to 4 weeks But sometimes the virus can make them seriously ill,” says Dr Amitoj Singh Chhina, Consultant Pediatrics and Neonatology, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Benagluru (Old Airport Road).
If a child or other family member develops a new rash that looks like a pimple or blister, or has other possible symptoms of monkeypox, they should contact their doctor.
“Complications can include secondary infections, bronchopneumonia, sepsis, encephalitis and corneal infection with subsequent loss of vision,” Dr. Chhina added.
Monkeypox virus can be spread through close contact with infected people or animals.
A child can be infected if he:
Having direct contact with blood, body fluids or fluid from blisters
· Using bedding or other items contaminated with the virus
Breathe in the virus
· Transmission can also occur via the placenta from mother to fetus (congenital monkey pox) or through close contact during and after birth.
How to treat monkeypox in children
Dr. Chhina says there is no specific treatment for monkeypox virus infection and symptoms often go away on their own without requiring treatment. He recommends symptomatic treatment for affected children.
Here are a few tips:
– Children often suffer from fever and sometimes body aches. Medicines for pain (analgesics) and fever (antipyretics) can therefore be used to relieve these symptoms.
– It is important to keep children well hydrated and to give them enough fluids.
– A sick child with an uncontrolled fever or severe pain or greatly reduced activity may need urgent evaluation and care in a hospital.
– Affected children should be advised to wash their hands before and after touching lesions and to keep the skin dry and uncovered. If they are in a room with someone else, the lesions should be covered with clothing or a bandage until they can isolate themselves again.
– The rash can be cleaned with sterilized water or an antiseptic. Salt water rinses can be used for lesions in the mouth, and warm baths with baking soda and Epsom salts can help with lesions on the body. Lidocaine can be applied to oral and perianal lesions to relieve pain.
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