Clinically reviewed by Shaina Doyen, PharmD, BCIDP.
Monkeypox has been making headlines around the world lately, so we will discuss everything you need to know about Monkeypox, including how it is transmitted, its symptoms, and how to protect yourself from it.
What Is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare disease that is part of the same family of viruses that causes smallpox. It is believed to have originated in Africa and has since spread to other parts of the world. The symptoms of monkeypox are very similar to those of smallpox but are usually not as severe.
Quick facts about monkeypox:
- Monkeypox is in no way connected to chickenpox
- Monkeypox is usually benign
- There is no specific treatment for monkeypox so prevention is key
Symptoms usually start within 3 weeks following exposure. The symptoms of monkeypox vary from person to person. If someone has flu-like symptoms, they usually develop a rash 1 – 4 days later.
The rash may be located on or near the genitals or anus and could spread to other areas such as the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth. The rash can vary in appearance (initially look like pimples or blisters) and will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing and may be painful or itchy.
Other symptoms can include:
- Muscle aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Nasal congestion, cough, and other flu-like symptoms
Transmission of Monkeypox
Monkeypox is transmitted through contact with the blood, tissues, or other body fluids of infected people or animals. The virus can also spread through contact with objects or surfaces that have been contaminated.
It is primarily transmitted through close contact with an infected person.
Risk Factors of Catching Monkeypox
There are a number of risk factors that can increase the likelihood of contracting monkeypox.
Risk factors include:
- Contact with an infected person including objects or surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox
- Traveling to an area where the virus is prevalent
- Contact with an infected animal
Additionally, those with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to contracting monkeypox.
Treatment of Monkeypox
There is no specific treatment for monkeypox. It is recommended to relieve symptoms and support the immune system. This may include rest, fluids, and medications to help reduce fever and pain.
Additionally, treatments for smallpox may prove effective for monkeypox and may be recommended for people who are more likely to get severely ill such as patients with weakened immune systems. The monkeypox virus generally lasts between 2-4 weeks. Not everyone who gets infected with the virus requires treatment.
Prevention of Monkeypox
There are several ways to prevent monkeypox from spreading.
These include staying away from infected animals, washing hands regularly and thoroughly, and avoiding close contact with people who are sick. Additionally, those who are traveling to areas where the disease is prevalent should take extra precautions to avoid being infected.
The CDC also recommends vaccination for those at risk of infection or those who have been exposed to the Monkeypox virus.
There are several things to note about the monkeypox outbreak.
First, the virus is spreading mostly through close, intimate contact with someone who has monkeypox. This means that anyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, who has been in close, personal contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk.
Finally, there are over 20,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the United States right now. The majority of these cases are currently in New York, Florida, Georgia, Texas, and California. However, cases are also growing in Illinois and other US states.
If you need to seek treatment for Monkeypox or any other condition, contact one of our Primary Care doctors to make an appointment.