Why sanitisation matters

Chicken, buffalo, camel, dog, red deer, goat, monkey, rabbit, skunk, squirrel, small. What have these got in common?

Poxes. They, along with several others, are different poxes.

What is a pox?

A pox is a viral disease that is characterised by pustules or eruptions.

Most of us will remember having chickenpox and those nasty, itchy spots. The symptoms for children are often mild, but for adults they can be more severe. For some people, the virus can also reactivate in later life as shingles.

The only other thing most of us know about poxes is that, in 1796, Edward Jenner discovered that inoculating a person with material from a cowpox lesion would also protect them from the far nastier smallpox. Jenner called this a ‘vaccine’, a word we are all very familiar with, because vacca is the Latin for cow.

I say, the only other thing, but that was until monkeypox.

What is monkeypox?

I’m sure, like me, you are following the developing spread of the monkeypox virus in this country. After the disruption caused by COVID-19, it is hard not to read headlines like, “Monkeypox cases in UK surge by 38% as hundreds of new infections detected,” and be a little concerned.

The good news is, monkeypox symptoms are generally quite mild and patients normally recover completely within a few weeks. Hence the NHS is advising an isolation period of 21 days for people who have, “unprotected direct contact or high-risk environmental contact,” with someone who has the disease.

If you catch the virus, symptoms can take between five and 21 days to develop. These are: a high temperature, headaches, muscles aches, swollen glands, shivering and exhaustion. The rash, which ordinarily starts on the face, normally appears one to five days after the first symptoms.

Luckily, the disease can be easily treated with the smallpox virus vaccine, of which we have thousands of doses in the UK.

How do you get it?

Transmission happens in several ways:

  • Person-to-person via:
    • Direct contact with an infectious rash, scab or body fluids
    • Respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing and cuddling
    • Touching items, such as clothing or bedding, that previously came into contact with an infectious rash or body fluids
  • Animal-to-person via:
    • Scratches and bites from an infected animal – the NHS website lists rats, mice and squirrels in certain parts of Africa as being a potential risk
    • Preparing or eating the meat or produce of an infected animal

Should I be worried?

Not overly, this isn’t currently like the COVID-19 situation. If you are not in one of the at-risk groups – recently returned from west or central Africa or have been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox symptoms – then you should be fine.

How do I avoid monkeypox?

The truth is, with only 800 cases currently in the UK, the chances of you coming into direct contact with someone who has monkeypox are very slim.

However, as we have all learned with COVID-19, we can never be too careful when it comes to cleanliness and alertness when it comes to the spread of viruses. Apart from the obvious advice of avoiding dead/unwell animals and people who have monkeypox symptoms, the main guidance is to cook meat properly and, “wash your hands with soap and water regularly or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.” Sound familiar?

The important thing is to reduce the possibility of transmission. Just like COVID-19, monkeypox is an enveloped virus with a protective layer. While it is not currently possible to test sanitising products against the monkeypox virus in UK laboratories, it is widely believed that any product accredited to EN 14476 against vaccinia viruses will be effective.

If you suspect there is a possibility of infection within your property, the risk of transmission can be substantially reduced by undertaking a sanitisation program using appropriate equipment and an EN 14476 certified disinfection product.

LNPS has considerable experience in administering effective sanitisation programs for businesses and homeowners across London and the South-east.

Call 020 8430 4133 to discuss your sanitisation requirements.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay