With thousands of cases reported in countries all around the world, chances are you’ve been seeing a lot of news surrounding Monkeypox 2022 lately. With COVID still affecting all of our lives, adding another virus into the mix feels a bit unsettling.
Is it a cause for concern? And is there anything we can do to prevent and treat it? What are the early symptoms of Monkeypox anyway? Here’s what health experts have to say.
How Does Monkeypox Spread?
Monkeypox is a disease that is spread by a virus, which is acquired through close contact with an infected individual. The virus survives on surfaces of materials that came into contact with a person with infectious fluids or blisters, however, the primary mode of transmission requires very close contact, often intimate contact with an infected person, Dr. Gene OlingerChief Science Advisor of MRIGlobal, explains.
Differing from a COVID-19 infection, it is unlikely a person would be exposed by passing by them while shopping, on public transportation, or in other situations of concern with COVID-19.
The First Symptoms of Monkeypox to Look For
“Monkeypox usually begins with flu-like symptoms, including fever, chills, achiness, and swelling of lymph nodes,” says Dr. Jay Varma, Kroll’s Chief Medical Advisor and Kroll Institute Fellow. “After a few days, a person may develop bumps on their skin that spread to different parts of their body.”
It takes several weeks for these bumps to turn into scabs and fall off and for new skin to appear underneath. During these current outbreaks, some patients are developing bumps at the same time as other symptoms and those are beginning in their genital or anal area, Dr. Varma adds.
How to Prevent Monkeypox
Avoiding skin-to-skin contact with an infected person is the best prevention.
This could include touching their skin, kissing, having sex, or even sharing bedding or clothes. Good hygiene, washing hands and keeping six feet of distance between people in the community is very effective at protecting us from Monkeypox, respiratory illnesses, and new variants of COVID-19, Dr. Olinger explains.
Individuals vaccinated for smallpox are likely protected from infection. There are multiple vaccines that may be used to protect high-risk individuals—vaccination is also important for people at risk of exposure, such as those in contact with infected individuals.
At-Home Monkeypox Exposure
Immune-suppressed individuals who are in close contact or infected should talk to their health care provider to prevent the disease from progressing.
At the present time, most Monkeypox infections are being transmitted through the networks of men who have sex with men. If you are sexually active, it is important to ask your partner(s) about any bumps, rash, or any unusual symptoms and to use condoms at all times. We do not know how effective condoms are at preventing Monkeypox, but it is possible they help, Dr. Varma explains.
Monkeypox Treatment Options
Though there are no treatments for Monkeypox specifically, there are antiviral drugs and vaccines developed for similar viruses that can be used to treat it.
Some were developed to treat possible smallpox outbreaks and are in the national stockpile and are relatively harder to provide to patients, Dr. Olinger explains. More work is underway to make treatments available for patients.
People who have a rash from Monkeypox are eligible to receive the drug Tecorvirimat (Tpoxx), Dr. Varma states. Tpoxx was originally developed to treat a similar virus, smallpox, and is available through a special program from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.