Six things to know about monkeypox
News about monkeypox is on the rise. We have what you should know.
The volume of news and social media chatter about monkeypox is growing fast and public health agencies are issuing increasingly urgent warnings – the US has declared monkeypox a public health emergency and the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared monkeypox a global emergency. The announcements are indented to free up resources and create a cohesive global response to help treat and limit the spread of monkeypox.
Here is a quick overview.
What is monkeypox?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), monkeypox is a rare, generally non-fatal, contagious disease caused by a virus. Historically, the overwhelming majority of human cases were confined to central and western African countries.
That changed in May of this year, when clusters of monkeypox were reported in countries that don't normally report the virus, including the U.S. As of July 26, 2022, New Jersey has 89 confirmed cases of monkeypox and the U.S., 3,591 reported cases. For an updated case count by state, visit the CDC’s 2022 US Map & Case Count.
How does monkeypox spread?
Monkeypox seems to spread most often and most easily between people through close, skin-to-skin contact according to the CDC and State of New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH).
The current outbreak seems to be among individuals who are engaged in intimate physical contact with a person who has monkeypox. It is not a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) or Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI), however.
While the risk is understood at this time to be lower than through skin-to-skin contact, the CDC also believes that infected people who have pox or a rash may be able to spread the virus to others through contact with shared bedding, clothing or towels.
What are monkeypox symptoms?
The symptoms of monkeypox vary. According to the CDC, people may get a pimple or blister-like rash first, followed by other symptoms like fever, headache and swollen glands. Others only experience a rash, typically at the site of exposure.
The pox, blisters, or rash go through different stages before healing completely. The monkeypox illness typically lasts between two to four weeks. According to the CDC, monkeypox is rarely fatal.
Some examples of what the pox or rash may look like:
If you think you may have been exposed to monkeypox, you should promptly contact a doctor or visit a public health center.
How is monkeypox treated?
Antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox may be used to prevent and treat monkeypox virus infections. Your doctor will discuss and help guide you to treatment options.
Is monkeypox a greater risk to the health of some people?
According to the CDC, many people infected with monkeypox virus have a mild disease that does not require a specific medical treatment beyond time to run its course.
People who fit one of these categories are considered at higher risk of more severe disease and might be considered for treatment by their doctor:
- People who have other severe disease (e.g., hemorrhagic disease, confluent lesions, sepsis, encephalitis, or other conditions requiring hospitalization)
- People who are immunocompromised – For example: People who are living with HIV / AIDS, leukemia, lymphoma, generalized malignancy, solid organ transplantation, therapy with alkylating agents, antimetabolites, radiation, tumor necrosis factor inhibitors, high-dose corticosteroids, a recipient with hematopoietic stem cell transplant or having autoimmune disease with immunodeficiency as a clinical component
- Children, particularly patients younger than 8 years of age
- People with a history or presence of atopic dermatitis, persons with other active exfoliative skin conditions (e.g., eczema, burns, impetigo, varicella zoster virus infection, herpes simplex virus infection, severe acne, severe diaper dermatitis with extensive areas of denuded skin, psoriasis, or Darier disease)
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women
- People with one or more complications (e.g., secondary bacterial skin infection; gastroenteritis with severe nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, or dehydration; bronchopneumonia; concurrent disease or other comorbidities)
What is being done to help prevent the spread of the virus?
According to the NJDOH site, the agency is “working in conjunction with CDC and local health departments to quickly identify monkeypox cases and close contacts, provide treatment and vaccine, and further prevent the spread of disease.”
The site goes on to say that the JYNNEOS vaccine, previously available to residents with known exposure to a monkeypox case, will also be available to New Jerseyans who are at high risk of having been exposed to the virus in the past two weeks. Those with known exposure to the virus can received two doses of Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) through their local health department.
Horizon Health News is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.