What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a disease caused by the monkeypox virus, named monkeypox after its believed source, monkeys; however, the exact origins of the disease are unknown (CDC, 2022).
According to the CDC, monkeypox symptoms begin within three weeks of exposure to the virus. Typically, someone infected with the virus will experience flu-like symptoms and then develop a rash 1-4 days later. The virus can spread from person to person from the time the symptoms develop until the rash heals and all scabs have fallen off. The CDC estimates that the illness lasts around 2-4 weeks.
- Muscle aches and backache
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
- Rash (on or near the genitals, anus, hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth)
How it Spreads
The media quickly labeled monkeypox as a sexually transmitted disease; however, the virus spreads in several different ways. The virus can spread through close, often skin-to-skin contact including direct contact with a monkeypox rash, scabs, or fluids; touching objects or surfaces used by someone with monkeypox; and through contact with respiratory secretions.
Monkeypox can also spread through intimate contact including oral, anal, and vaginal sex; touching the genitals or anus of someone with monkeypox; hugging, massage, and kissing; face-to-face contact; touching objects during sex that were used by a person with monkeypox. Monkeypox can spread from a pregnant person to a fetus. Lastly, a person can get monkeypox after being scratched, bitten, or preparing the meat of an animal infected with monkeypox (CDC, 2022).
Treatment and Prevention
At this time, there is no FDA-approved or authorized medicine for monkeypox treatment (FDA, 2022). Current treatment for monkeypox focuses on managing symptoms, maintaining adequate nutritional status, and treating bacterial infections when needed (WHO, 2022).
In the United States, two vaccines are available for monkeypox prevention: JYNNEOS (also known as Imvamune or Imvanex) and ACAM2000. The JYNNEOS vaccine has limited supply in the U.S., but delivery is expected shortly. The U.S. has a large supply of ACAM2000; however, the use of the vaccines is not recommended for people with weakened immune systems, certain skin conditions, or pregnancy (CDC, 2022).
If you are concerned about a new rash or other symptoms, the CDC recommends avoiding close contact with others until checking with a healthcare provider. When checking in with your healthcare provider, inform them of this newly developed rash.
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-Written by Sabrina Park MPH