In May, public health officials started to detect cases of monkeypox all over the world, including in places where the disease doesn’t usually spread. The disease spread to Central and West Africa, which is where it has been most prevalent, but also to Europe, the United States and South America.
The World Health Organization declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern due to the spread of the virus worldwide. The Biden administration declared an emergency for the United States monkeypox epidemic on Thursday. This is two months after first symptoms of the disease appeared in the United States.
Here’s what you need to know about monkeypox.
What is monkeypox exactly?
The monkeypoxvirus is the cause of monkeypox. It’s a similar virus to the one that causes smallpox. The first human case was identified in 1970, and since then, it’s primarily caused outbreaks in a handful of countries in Africa.
Are monkeys to blame for monkeypox?
Let the monkeys be monkeys. Monkeypox was named after a 1958 discovery in a monkey research monkey. This virus is a friendly animal that likes to hang out with rodents and small furry creatures. In 2003, some domestic prairie dogs shared space with infected mammals of West Africa. This was the last outbreak in the US.
Infected animals can spread monkeypox to people, but there haven’t yet been any confirmed cases of people spreading it to animals, according to the CDC. That being said, they do warn that it’s possible for an infected person to spread monkeypox to an animal via “petting, cuddling, hugging, kissing, licking, sharing sleeping areas, and sharing food.”
TL;DR: Do not touch your chinchilla if you have monkeypox.
Is monkeypox still spreading?
Monkeypox cases are popping up all over the globe. While cases are clustered in men who have sex, the virus can be spread to anyone.
What are the symptoms and signs of monkeypox
Monkeypox is most easily identified by the appearance of pimple-like or blister-like lesion on the body. Monkeypox cases used to spread across the entire body in the past. However, this outbreak often leaves patients with a few small blisters, such as the genital areas. Patients can also suffer from fevers, swelling lymph nodes and headaches as well as other flu-like symptoms.
The illness usually isn’t fatal, but it can be very painful. It usually lasts between two and four weeks.
I’m getting flashbacks — is this COVID-19 all over again?
No, this isn’t COVID-19 all over again. This isn’t a new virus. Scientists have known about monkeypox for decades, even if it hasn’t popped up in this many countries before. There are vaccines and treatments that can be used to combat it. Even if most people in the US hadn’t heard of monkeypox before, we’re not starting from scratch the way we did with the coronavirus.
Is this a pandemic monkeypox epidemic?
Nope. Although Monkeypox may be spreading throughout the world, it is not yet considered an outbreak. There’s not really any official criteria for a pandemic, but the World Health Organization ultimately makes the call as to whether a disease outbreak qualifies, and that hasn’t happened yet. COVID-19, which occurred in March 2020, was the last pandemic that was declared. It happened approximately eight decades ago or yesterday, depending on how you view time over the past two year.
Now, Monkeypox is a public emergency both in the USA and worldwide. Organizations and countries can declare an emergency to free up funds for public health efforts during an outbreak.
How do I get tested for monkeypox
The United States is limited on monkeypox testing at this time. Patients can be tested by their doctors or emergency care providers. The test involves swabbing the monkeypox lesion, and then sending it to a lab for testing. Some people with symptoms and rashes, though, say they’re still having trouble accessing tests — many doctors still aren’t familiar with the disease.
Are there any home tests?
There aren’t home tests for monkeypox. Most testing still requires that healthcare providers swab a monkeypox lesion, and there’s no way for someone to do that on their own at this point. Some groups are currently working on saliva tests.
Do I need to get the monkeypox vaccine?
The good news is that there’s already one FDA-approved vaccine to prevent monkeypox: Jynneos. The bad news is that it’s currently in short supply in the United States. People who have been exposed to monkeypox are encouraged to get vaccinated. This will prevent the virus from spreading. The vaccine is also available to men who have sex in public places, as well as people who have had multiple sexual partners in the same area.
How is monkeypox transmitted
Monkeypox primarily spreads through person-to-person contact — when someone has close physical contact with someone who is infected with the virus. Right now, it seems to be spreading mostly through sexual contact, which is one reason why we’re seeing infections clustered in sexual networks. It is possible to contract monkeypox by touching fabric or objects that have monkeypox lesions. But that’s probably not a huge method of transmission, and basic hygiene measures (wiping surfaces, washing hands) should cut down on the risk.
The monkeypox virus might be able to spread when infected people exhale and others close by breathe in that exhalation, but it’s not nearly as contagious through that pathway as COVID-19. We’re not seeing cases where people catch the virus just by being in the same room briefly as someone with monkeypox — which we do with COVID-19.
Why is monkeypox spreading quickly?
Researchers are still trying to figure out why monkeypox started spreading outside of the places where it’s usually found. It could be because of new features of the virus that let it travel undetected, but it’s very much an open question.
Do I have to be concerned about monkeypox in the subway?
Monkeypox spreads primarily through close physical contact, so the subway shouldn’t be a major risk — just wear a mask (masks are still required on the NYC subway) and wash your hands.
Is it OK to film someone with a skin condition?
What? No. This is a terrible idea. Don’t do this.
Where can I find the most recent information on monkeypox
Here’s the CDC page on monkeypox. That’s where you can find updated case counts, more information about signs and symptoms, and information about prevention and treatment.
Source: The Verge