Understanding Monkeypox Virus

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Understanding Monkeypox Virus

In recent times, viral infections have increased with newer forms of viruses infecting humans. While the COVID-19 virus took the world by surprise, close on its heels, the monkeypox virus had also started rearing its head. While fortunately, it didn’t result in an epidemic or pandemic, there were a few cases of monkeypox reported in India and around the world in 2022.

A virus is a microbe that causes infection. It has DNA/RNA and protein. To replicate, it needs a host cell. Most viruses occupy host cells for replication and end up killing the host in the process. While there are millions of viruses in the world, only a small fraction of them infect humans.

Some of the common viral illnesses are the common cold, seasonal flu, stomach flu, and cold sores. Viruses can infect humans in different ways – through the nose, mouth, skin, eyes, genitals, or anus.

The monkeypox virus causes the monkeypox disease. This is not a common virus; hence, the disease is rare too. It is transmitted from animals to humans and was first discovered in 1958. Its symptoms are similar to smallpox but less severe. It primarily occurs and Central and West African countries and spreads mainly via rodents and monkeys.

While most cases of monkeypox are treated with medicines, rest, and adequate care, it can be life-threatening in some cases. In extremely severe cases, the patient might need to be hospitalised and kept under intensive care. In such cases, the costs of treatment can dent your finances. Hence, having a medical insurance plan that covers the costs is important.

Tata AIG offers a range of health insurance plans designed to help people easily manage medical emergency costs. With Tata AIG, you can buy health insurance online and get your claim processed hassle-free.

In this article, we will talk about monkeypox and its symptoms, causes, and treatment options.

What is the Monkeypox Disease?

The Monkeypox Disease is caused by the monkeypox virus. This is a member of the Orthopox virus genus. Further, monkeypox transmission is zoonotic. This means that it spreads from animals to humans. While there are a few cases of human-to-human transmission too, the primary form is from animals.

Its symptoms are similar to the flu. The virus has an incubation period of around two weeks, and the patient experiences a range of symptoms during this period. Most cases of monkeypox are mild, and patients tend to recover completely within a few weeks.

Types of Monkeypox Virus

There are two known types of the monkeypox virus: West African and Congo Basin.

These strains are named after the regions where they are primarily found. Also, the Congo strain is more severe and has a higher fatality rate compared to the West African strain.

Monkeypox Symptoms

Monkeypox has symptoms similar to smallpox but milder. It is important to note that this virus has an incubation period of up to two weeks. This means that the patient will not show symptoms until the end of the incubation period. Here are some early signs of monkeypox disease:

  • Headache

  • Fever

  • Chills

  • Aches

  • Tiredness

  • Swollen lymph nodes

Subsequently, the patient might develop a rash and lesions on various parts of the body. In some cases, the patient can develop a rash before the onset of other symptoms. These rashes usually change their appearance over time. Eventually, they form scabs which fall off as the patient recovers.

In severe cases, patients might experience symptoms, including:

  • Inflammation of the brain

  • Inflammation of the lungs

  • Eye infections

  • Sepsis

  • Bacterial infections

If not treated in time, monkeypox can also result in the death of the patient.

Monkeypox Virus Causes

The monkeypox disease is caused by the monkeypox virus. As explained above, this zoonotic virus primarily spreads from an infected rodent or monkey to humans. There have been some cases of the virus being transmitted from one infected human to another too.

If you come in contact with the bodily fluid of an infected animal, like its saliva, urine, etc., via direct touch or through infected bedding or surfaces, then you can get infected too.

If an infected person coughs or sneezes, then you can get infected. You can also catch the virus through contact with the bodily fluids of the infected person, like saliva, blood, or semen.

Once the virus enters the body, it takes over the host cells and starts replicating. This allows the virus to spread to other organs in the body.

Risk Factors

Here are some factors that can increase your risk of getting infected with the monkeypox virus:**

  • Proximity to animals: Since the virus primarily spreads from an infected animal to a human, people in close contact with animals have a higher risk of getting infected. So, if you are an animal farmer or hunter or live on a farm with rodents or monkeys nearby, then your chances of catching the virus through an infected animal are higher.

  • Inadequate immunity: People with a weak immune system are usually at a higher risk of getting a viral infection. This is true for monkeypox too.

  • Travel to certain African regions: Monkeypox originated in Western and Central Africa and is endemic to these regions. Hence, if you travel to any country in Central or Western Africa, you are at a higher risk of contracting the disease.

  • People who have not received smallpox vaccination: Many studies show that the smallpox vaccine offers a certain level of protection against the monkeypox virus. Since there is no monkeypox vaccine, people who have never received a smallpox vaccine are at a higher risk of monkeypox disease.

Monkeypox Diagnosis

Since the symptoms of monkeypox are similar to flu and many other viral illnesses, it is not possible to diagnose it using the symptoms alone. Two primary tests can help determine the monkeypox disease:

  • PCR or Polymerase Chain Reaction Test: This is the preferred test for monkeypox diagnosis. In this test, the medical professional will take a swab from your cheek or nose or use a sample of the fluid from the lesions to extract your genetic information and test it for the presence of the virus.

  • Rapid Antigen and Serology: This is not a conclusive test and is usually used to reconfirm the test results of the PCR. In this test, the medical professional takes a sample of your blood and looks for antibodies or antigens that your body produces in response to the infection.

Monkeypox Treatment

While there has been a lot of advancement in finding a cure for monkeypox, the medicines are still under clinical trials. In fact, many people infected with the virus recover without any medicines. Hence, most doctors monitor the patient and prescribe medicines to relieve symptoms and allow the body to fight off the virus. Hence, monkeypox treatment can be divided into two broad parts:**

  • Supportive Care: As mentioned above, most people recover from monkeypox without any medicine. However, if the patient is experiencing pain, then the doctor might prescribe pain relief medicines. Also, the doctor might provide supportive care by prescribing medicines to soften the stool and relieve the symptoms of dehydration if any.

  • Antiviral medicines: The doctor might prescribe a general antiviral to help the patient fight the infection too. Since there is no medicine targeted towards monkeypox, the choice of antiviral will depend on the doctor’s understanding of the patient’s symptoms.

Preventing Monkeypox

Since the monkeypox disease is caused by a virus, the best way to prevent it is to take steps to avoid the factors that increase the risk of infection. Here are some steps that you can take to prevent monkeypox:

  • Avoid handling animals without protection: Many zoonotic viruses can infect humans. Hence, if you are handling animals, then make sure that you wear a mask, gloves, protective clothing and shoes to avoid any contact with the virus.

  • Avoid proximity to people with a monkeypox-like rash: Smallpox and monkeypox rashes look different from other rashes. Make sure that you know what a monkeypox rash looks like and avoid getting too close to a person with such a rash.

  • Practice hygiene: If you suspect a person or animal close to you to be infected with monkeypox, then you need to pay extra attention to hygiene. Wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face before washing them.

Difference between Monkeypox and Smallpox

Factor Monkeypox Smallpox
Name of the virus Monkeypox virus Variola virus
When and where was it discovered? 1958 in Africa It has been present for thousands of years
How is it transmitted? Primarily from animals like rodents and monkeys to humans. In some cases, it is transmitted from one human to another too. Primary from an infected human to a non-infected one
Is it fatal? The mortality rate is up to 10% in Africa and less than 1% elsewhere If a person is not vaccinated, then the mortality rate can be as high as 30%
What is the incubation period of the virus? Around 1-2 weeks Around 7-17 days

Why Buy a Medical Insurance Plan?

While in most cases, people recover from monkeypox without the need for any medical intervention, if you develop complications, then the cost of treatment can rise exponentially in no time. When you opt for a comprehensive health insurance policy from Tata AIG, you can leverage the benefits of health insurance in an affordable package.

Here are some reasons why you should use a Tata AIG medical insurance plan:

  • Comprehensive coverage: Tata AIG’s health insurance plans are designed to offer complete protection against covered diseases and illnesses. This means that you can get coverage for hospitalization costs, pre and post-hospitalization expenses, diagnostic tests, outpatient treatment costs, ambulance service costs, etc.

  • Cost-efficient policies: With Tata AIG, you can be assured of getting the best offers on premiums for the coverage offered. This allows you to get optimum protection for yourself and your loved ones.

  • Cashless claims: Tata AIG offers a cashless claim facility wherein you can get treated at a network hospital without paying any amount upfront. The hospital bills are cleared by the company directly.

  • Network hospitals: Tata AIG has a large network of hospitals and healthcare providers that allows you to get the best treatment options for a range of medical emergencies.

  • Excellent customer service: Being a customer-centric company, Tata AIG has ensured the availability of a 24/7 customer service helpdesk to assist you with any queries regarding your health insurance policy.

How to Buy Tata AIG’s Health Insurance?

Here is a quick look at the process to buy Tata AIG Health insurance:

Online Process

  • Visit www.tataaig.com

  • Navigate to the health insurance section by scrolling to the top menu on the home page and clicking on All Products >> Health Insurance. Alternatively, click here to visit the health insurance page.

  • Choose between one of these options:

  • Select only “Self” and click on “Get Plan” if you want to purchase an individual health insurance plan

  • Select spouse, father, mother, son, or daughter if you are opting for a family plan based on the members that you want to be included in the policy and then click on “Get Plan”

  • Enter the date of birth of all covered members and your contact information

  • Click on “See Plan”

  • Go through the inclusions, exclusions, and coverage offered by each plan offered and select the best one for your needs

  • Customize the policy by selecting add-on covers. Also, make sure to select the optimum sum insured

  • Click on “Buy Now”

  • We will call you to complete the buying process

Offline purchase:

  • Visit the nearest Tata AIG office

  • Our representative will try to understand your health insurance requirements

  • Make sure that you offer details of the medical history of all the covered members and other requested information

  • Select the best policy from the options provided

  • Choose add-on covers to tailor the policy to your needs

  • Review the policy details, premium amount, and coverage benefits

  • Pay the fees

Documents Needed to Buy Tata AIG’s Medical Insurance Plan

While the list of documents might vary with every application, here is a general list of documents that you will need to buy a Tata AIG medical insurance plan:

  • Proof of age like your passport, birth certificate, or Aadhar Card

  • Proof of address like your bank statement, rental agreement, or utility bill

  • Identity proof like your Aadhar Card, PAN Card, or driving license

  • Documents establishing your medical history including any preexisting conditions

  • Other documents like proof of your income, tax returns, etc. depending on the choice of plan

What to Look for in a Health Insurance Plan?

If you are looking to get coverage for monkeypox, then you will need a plan that covers outpatient treatment costs, diagnostic tests, and hospitalisation for severe cases. While most policies covering monkeypox will offer these features, here are some other essential aspects that you should consider before buying a health insurance plan:

  • Sum Insured: Medical treatment costs can be very high in metropolitan cities compared to Tier II or III cities. Also, if you are covering your spouse and children under the policy, then you will need an adequate sum insured. Make sure that you assess your needs and choose the right coverage amount.

  • Premium costs: If the policy that you need comes with a high premium, then you can opt for co-payment or deductibles to reduce the premium liability and make it affordable. While you might have to bear a percentage of the hospital expenses, it will help you easily manage the premium costs.

  • Network hospitals: Make sure that the insurer has network hospitals and healthcare providers in the area where you live. This can help you get cashless treatments done.

  • Avoid policies with sub-limits: Many health insurance policies have sub-limits on room charges and other factors. These can restrict your treatment options or put a financial burden on you. Hence, look for a policy with no such sub-limits.

  • The reputation of the insurer: Go through the review of the insurer and look at the efficiency of claim settlement and customer service offered.

Things to Remember for Filing a Claim for Monkeypox Virus Insurance

There are two ways in which a health insurance policy covers medical costs.

The first is cashless claims where you get treated at a network hospital and the insurer pays the bills directly. For cashless claims, keep these things in mind:

  • Inform the insurer about the hospitalisation and get an authorisation letter for cashless treatment.

  • If the treatment is planned, then make sure that you inform the insurer at least five days in advance.

  • However, in case of medical emergencies, inform the insurer within 24 hours of being hospitalised.

The second option is a reimbursement claim where you get treated at a non-network hospital. In such cases, you need to spend from your pocket and file a claim later. Before filing a reimbursement claim, keep these things in mind:

  • Talk to the insurer and understand the documents that you would need for filing the claim

  • Collect the documents like the medical certificate signed by the doctor, pathological reports, hospital discharge card, x-rays if applicable, hospital and pharmacy bills, etc.

  • As soon as you are discharged, fill up a claim form, attach the documents, and submit it to the insurer

Here are some basic things that you need to keep in mind for a health insurance claim:

  • Every health insurance policy has a validity term. Make sure that when you are getting treated, the policy is in force and hasn’t lapsed

  • Revisit the inclusions and exclusions section of the policy document to understand the costs you can claim

  • Make sure that your ailment is not in the waiting period as per the policy

  • Understand and follow the claims process of the insurer

Health Insurance Tax Benefits

The Income Tax Act, 1961 offers tax deduction benefits for the premium paid on a health insurance policy. In other words, you can deduct the premium amount from your taxable income for computing income tax every year. This is available for policies purchased for self, spouse, dependent children and parents. Here are the details:

Scenario 1: Policy covering you, your spouse and your children

If you have purchased a policy that covers your family (excluding your parents), then here are the tax deduction limits:

  • You or your spouse are less than 60 years old: Maximum deduction amount = ₹25,000 per year

  • You or your spouse are over 60 years old: Maximum deduction amount = ₹50,000 per year

This will also cover the costs of preventive health check-ups of up to ₹5,000 per year if you are under 60 and ₹7,000 per year if you are over 60 years old.

Scenario 2: Two separate policies covering you and your family, and dependent parents

If you have purchased a policy that covers your family and dependent parents, then here are the tax deduction limits:

  • Your family is less than 60 years and your parents are less than 60 years old: Maximum deduction limit: ₹25,000 per year for your family + ₹25,000 per year for your parent’s coverage

  • Your family is less than 60 years but your parents are over 60 years old: Maximum deduction limit: ₹25,000 per year for your family + ₹50,000 per year for your parent’s coverage

  • Your family is over 60 years and your parents are over 60 years old: Maximum deduction limit: ₹50,000 per year for your family + ₹50,000 per year for your parent’s coverage

Hindu Undivided Family (HUF)

  • For HUFs, the tax deduction limits are as follows:

  • Policy for yourself, your spouse, and your dependent children: Maximum deduction limit: ₹25,000 per year

  • Policy for parents: Maximum deduction limit: ₹50,000 per year

Non-Resident Indians (NRIs)

For NRIs, the maximum deduction limit is ₹25,000 per year

Disclaimer / TnC

Your policy is subjected to terms and conditions & inclusions and exclusions mentioned in your policy wording. Please go through the documents carefully.

Related Articles

Q1. Is the monkeypox virus present in pet animals too?

Q1. Is the monkeypox virus present in pet animals too?

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The monkeypox virus is known to spread from infected rodents and monkeys. If your pet is a monkey or a rodent and infected with the virus, then you can get infected if you come in contact with your pet or its bodily fluids.

Q2. Can the monkeypox disease be cured?

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Currently, there is no cure for monkeypox disease. While in most cases, the patient recovers without needing any medical intervention, doctors tend to offer supportive care and antiviral to help with the recovery process. In cases where the symptoms are severe, the doctor might prescribe adequate medicines to help relieve the symptoms.

Q3. Do I need to buy a separate health insurance policy for monkeypox?

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Monkeypox is a viral disease. Therefore, it will be covered under a policy that covers viral diseases. Hence, you don’t have to buy a separate health insurance policy covering monkeypox. However, make sure that you understand the inclusions, exclusions, and terms of the policy to assess the scope and extent of the coverage offered. Also, you might want to talk to the insurer to be certain of the coverage before making the purchase.

Q4. I have already been diagnosed with monkeypox. Can I buy a health insurance policy to cover its treatment costs?

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As a general rule, if you are already diagnosed with a certain disease or illness, then you cannot purchase a policy to immediately cover its treatment costs. Insurers treat this as a pre-existing condition and tend to have a waiting period after which coverage is offered. Make sure that you talk to the insurer and try to understand the waiting period clause before buying the policy.

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