As monkeypox infections are growing with each passing day, the scare around its symptoms especially the painful rashes that appear in neck, armpits or groin, is making people dread the zoonotic viral infection. Monkeypox symptoms include fever, headache, back pain, myalgia (muscle aches) and intense asthaenia (lack of energy), swollen lymph nodes, and a rash. Its incubation period (interval from infection to onset of symptoms) may range from 5 to 21 days. (Also read: Monkeypox in India; experts on tips to manage symptoms)
Experts say monkeypox infection in children is mild but can turn severe in some cases.
“The rash begins as flat spots that turn into bumps, which then fill with fluid. They later crust and fall off as they heal. Sometimes spots that look like pimples or blisters may develop before having any other symptoms. The rash tends to be more concentrated on the face and extremities rather than on the trunk. Usually, affected children may feel better within 2 to 4 weeks. But sometimes the virus can make them severely ill,” says Dr Amitoj Singh Chhina, Consultant- Pediatrics and Neonatology, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Benagluru (Old Airport Road).
If a child or anyone else in the family develops a new rash that looks like pimple or blister, or has other possible symptoms of monkeypox, they should contact their doctor.
“Complications can include secondary infections, bronchopneumonia, sepsis, encephalitis, and infection of the cornea with ensuing loss of vision,” added Dr Chhina.
The monkeypox virus can spread from close contact with infected people or animals.
A child can become infected if they:
· Have direct contact with blood, bodily fluids, or fluid from the blisters
· Use bedding or other items contaminated by the virus
· Breathe in the virus
· Transmission can also occur via the placenta from mother to foetus (congenital monkeypox) or during close contact during and after birth.
How can monkeypox be treated in children
Dr Chhina says there is no specific treatment for monkeypox virus infection and that the symptoms often resolve on their own without the need for treatment. He recommends symptomatic treatment for the affected children.
Here are some tips:
– Children often suffer from fever and sometimes, body aches, and hence medication for pain (analgesics) and fever (antipyretics) can be used to relieve these symptoms.
– It is important to keep the children well hydrated and they should be given adequate fluids.
– A sick child with uncontrolled fever or severe aches or significantly reduced activity may need urgent evaluation and care in a hospital.
– Affected children should be advised to wash their hands before and after touching the lesions and 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 are able to isolate again.
– The rash can be kept clean with sterilised water or antiseptic. Saltwater 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.