What is Monkeypox, and Should I be Concerned?
If you’ve been paying attention to national news, you’ve undoubtedly been exposed to updates regarding an outbreak of monkeypox in the United States and around the world. But what exactly is monkeypox? Is this going to become the next big health concern after COVID-19? Should you be concerned? How can you protect yourself and your family from potential infection? Let us help put your mind at ease and ensure you feel prepared to keep your loved ones safe and healthy.
What exactly is monkeypox?
Monkeypox, first discovered in 1958 after developing in research-monkey colonies, is a rare disease caused by an infection with the monkeypox virus. The disease was first recorded in humans in 1970 and was previously reported mostly in individuals who lived in central and western African countries or who traveled internationally. The monkeypox virus is in the same viral family as smallpox and results in many similar symptoms, including:
- Muscle aches and backache
- Swollen lymph nodes
- A pimple- or blister-like rash that appears on the face, inside the mouth and other parts of the body like hands, feet, chest, genitals or anus, typically lasting two to four weeks
Although similar to smallpox, monkeypox symptoms are much milder and the disease is rarely fatal. Also, despite the similarity in name, monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.
Is monkeypox about to become a major outbreak in the U.S.?
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is sharing that multiple cases of monkeypox have been reported in the United States and other countries, the disease is still considered to be quite rare. As of now, the majority of cases are comprised of gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men, but anyone who comes in close contact with an individual who has monkeypox is at risk. The disease does not spread easily between people without close, skin-to-skin contact, so the threat level to the general public is still considered low.
Preventing monkeypox infection
Monkeypox can be spread in a few different ways, so prevention can be as simple as just being a bit more cautious. Some of the ways the virus spreads from person-to-person include:
- Direct contact with the rash, scabs or body fluids of an infected individual.
- Respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact or during intimate physical contact, like kissing, cuddling or sex.
- Touching items that have previously been in contact with the rash or body fluids, such as clothing or bed linens.
- A pregnant woman infecting the fetus through the placenta.
It can also be spread through contact with an infected animal by being bitten or scratched, or by eating meat or using other products from an infected animal. Although no prevention method can remove all of the risk, there are several ways you can help prevent you or a loved one from contracting monkeypox:
- Avoid any contact with animals that could harbor the virus including those that are sick or are found dead in an area where monkeypox occurs.
- Avoid contact with materials that have been in contact with a sick individual or animal.
- Isolate those who are infected for the duration of the illness to prevent spread to others.
- Practice good hand hygiene after contact with an infected animal or human using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Monkeypox may be making headlines recently, but with the right precautions, you can keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Remain vigilant in your observation of any new symptoms with yourself and those you have close contact with.
MIDWEST EXPRESS CLINIC DOES NOT CURRENTLY OFFER TESTING FOR MONKEYPOX, BUT WE ARE WORKING TOWARDS A SOLUTION.
If you have further questions or concerns about your risk of contracting monkeypox, or you need help with any other health concern, stop by your nearest Midwest Express Clinic today. Be sure to visit us online for fast, easy check-in to minimize your wait time before you come in!