Hearing about monkeypox in the news over the last few months may feel similar to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily, monkeypox is much less of a threat. It does not spread as easily as COVID-19, and while it can cause some uncomfortable symptoms, most people completely recover with no medical treatment.
Even so, people should still be aware of monkeypox and take precautions to avoid it. Find out more from Dr. Sarah Ali, Director of Infectious Diseases at Mary’s Center:
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a viral illness that was discovered in monkeys in 1958. The first human case was recorded in Africa in 1970, and more recently monkeypox has started spreading in the U.S. It is part of the same family of viruses that cause smallpox, but monkeypox has milder symptoms and is rarely fatal.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptom of monkeypox is a rash that may develop on the hands, feet, chest, face, mouth, and/or genital area. The rash can be painful or itchy, and it often goes through several stages, starting as flat, red spots, and then progressing to bumps filled with fluid or pus, and finally turning into scabs.
Some people also experience flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, headache, sore throat, and cough. These symptoms may appear before or after the rash.
What should you do if you develop symptoms?
Contact your primary care provider, and be sure to let them know of your symptoms before you come in. Your provider will determine if you need a test.
When do symptoms appear and how long do they last?
Symptoms may appear anywhere from 5–21 days after exposure, but usually it takes around one to two weeks. Once you develop symptoms, the illness lasts approximately 2–4 weeks.
How does monkeypox spread?
Monkeypox spreads through close, personal contact with an infected person, including hugging, kissing, and oral, anal, or vaginal sex. It can also spread through fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels) and surfaces used by an infected person.
How long is monkeypox contagious?
A person with monkeypox can spread it to others from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed, usually 2–4 weeks.
Is Monkeypox a sexually transmitted infection (STI)?
No. While monkeypox can spread during sex, anyone who has direct contact with monkeypox rash, scabs, or body fluids can get sick.
Who is most at risk for monkeypox?
In the United States, monkeypox is mostly spreading among men who have sex with men, and people with multiple sexual partners. However, keep in mind that anyone who has close, personal contact with a contagious person can get monkeypox.
How can people protect themselves from monkeypox?
The best way to protect yourself is avoiding close contact with people recently diagnosed with monkeypox, or anyone who may have been infected. As always, washing your hands frequently helps to avoid illness.
Who is eligible for the monkeypox vaccine?
There is limited supply of the monkeypox vaccine, and it is currently only being administered through health departments to people at higher risk. Eligibility criteria vary by jurisdiction:
If you think you or a family member may be infected with monkeypox, make an appointment today by calling 844-796-2797 or filling out this online form.