Since May 14, 2022, clusters of monkeypox cases have been reported in several countries that don’t normally have monkeypox. On May 20, 2022, the CDC issued a Health Advisory regarding recent cases in the United States.
Monkeypox is a rare disease that is caused by infection with monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus. The Orthopoxvirus genus also includes variola virus (which causes smallpox), vaccinia virus (used in the smallpox vaccine), and cowpox virus.
Monkeypox is typically endemic to parts of central and west Africa, and people can be exposed through bites or scratches from rodents and small mammals, preparing wild game, or having contact with an infected animal or possibly animal products.
Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder; and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.
Symptoms of monkeypox can include:
- Muscle aches and backache
- Swollen lymph nodes
- A rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.
- The rash goes through different stages before healing completely. This process can take several weeks
Sometimes, people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.
Early Detection & Prevention
If you have a new or unexplained rash, sores, or other symptoms:
- See your health care provider – if you don’t have a provider or health insurance, call and schedule an appointment at a public health clinic near you.
- When you see a healthcare provider for possible monkeypox, remind them that the virus is circulating in the community.
- Avoid sex or being intimate with anyone until you have been checked out.
- Avoid gatherings, especially if they involve close, personal, skin-to-skin contact.
If you or your partner have monkeypox:
- Follow the treatment and prevention recommendations of your health care provider.
- Avoid sex or being intimate with anyone until all your sores have healed and you have a fresh layer of skin formed.
There are number of measures that can be taken to prevent infection with monkeypox virus:
- Isolate infected patients from others who could be at risk for infection.
- Practice good hand hygiene after contact with infected animals or humans. For example, washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Use personal protective equipment (PPE) when caring for patients.
- Avoid contact with animals that could harbor the virus (including animals that are sick or that have been found dead in areas where monkeypox occurs).
- Avoid contact with any materials, such as bedding, that has been in contact with a sick animal.
It’s not clear how the persons infected were exposed to monkeypox, but early data suggest that gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men make up a high number of cases.
However, anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk. Further information on prevention and early detection for people who are sexually active is available at: Monkeypox Facts for People Who are Sexually Active and The CDC Website
Monkeypox is rare and does not spread easily between people without close contact. The threat of monkeypox to the general U.S. population remains LOW.
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