EL PASO, Texas — As cases of monkeypox begin to rise across the country, more and more members of the community are beginning to wonder what risks this rare disease can bring and how they can avoid it. Here we tell you.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), monkeypox or monkeypox is a rare disease caused by a virus called monkeypox. It is a zoonotic viral disease, which means that it can be transmitted from animals to humans.
The monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses that causes the smallpox virus that causes smallpox.
Symptoms of monkeypox are similar to those of smallpox, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal, however, monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.
The first case, when was it discovered?
Monkeypox was discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a smallpox-like disease occurred in research colonies of monkeys.
Although it is called “monkeypox”, the source of the disease remains unknown. However, African rodents and non-human primates (such as monkeys) can harbor the virus and infect humans.
The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970. Prior to the 2022 outbreak, monkeypox had been reported in people from several countries in Central and West Africa.
Previously, nearly all cases of monkeypox in people outside of Africa were linked to international travel to countries where the disease is common or via imported animals. These cases have occurred on several continents.
Signs and symptoms
Symptoms of monkeypox can include:
- Muscle pain and back pain
- swollen lymph nodes
- Respiratory symptoms (for example, sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
- A rash that may be located on or near the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus, but may also be found on other areas such as the hands, feet, chest, face or mouth.
- The rash will go through several stages, including crusting, before it heals.
- The rash may look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy.
You may experience all of the symptoms or only some of them.
- Sometimes people have a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.
- Most people with monkeypox will have a rash.
- Some people have developed a rash before (or without) other symptoms.
Symptoms of monkeypox usually begin within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus. If someone has flu-like symptoms, they will usually develop a rash 1-4 days later.
Monkeypox can spread from the time symptoms appear until the rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a new layer of skin has formed. The illness usually lasts 2 to 4 weeks.
How does it spread?
Monkeypox is spread in several ways.
- It can spread to anyone through close personal contact, often skin-to-skin, including:
- Direct contact with a monkeypox rash, scabs, or bodily fluids from a person with monkeypox.
- Touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels) and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.
- Contact with respiratory secretions.
- This direct contact can occur during intimate contact, including:
- Oral, anal, and vaginal intercourse or touching the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus of someone with monkeypox.
- Hugs, massages and kisses.
- Prolonged face-to-face.
- Touching fabrics and objects during sex that have been used by someone with monkeypox and have not been disinfected, such as bedding, towels, fetish items, and sex toys.
- A pregnant woman can transmit the virus to her fetus through the placenta.
It is also possible for people to contract monkeypox from infected animals, either by being scratched or bitten by the animal, or by preparing or eating meat or using products from an animal. infected.
A person with monkeypox can pass it on to others from the time symptoms start until the rash has completely healed and a new layer of skin has formed. The illness usually lasts 2 to 4 weeks.
Scientists are still studying:
- Whether the virus can spread when a person has no symptoms
- How often is monkeypox transmitted through respiratory secretions, or when is a person with symptoms of monkeypox most likely to spread the virus through respiratory secretions.
- If monkeypox can be spread through semen, vaginal secretions, urine or feces.
How to protect yourself?
Take the following steps to avoid contracting monkeypox:
- Avoid close skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
- Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.
- Do not kiss, hug or have sex with someone who has monkeypox.
- Avoid contact with objects and materials that have been used by a person with smallpox.
- Do not share utensils or cups with someone who has this condition.
- Do not handle or touch an infected person’s bedding, towels or clothing.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after using the bathroom.
In West and Central Africa, avoid contact with animals that can spread the monkeypox virus, usually rodents and primates. Also, avoid sick or dead animals, as well as bedding or any other material they have touched.
Are there any vaccines?
Yes, but the CDC recommends vaccinating people who have been exposed to monkeypox and people who are more likely to catch it.
People most likely to get monkeypox include:
- People who have been identified by public health officials as a contact of someone with monkeypox
- People who know that one of their sexual partners in the past 2 weeks has been diagnosed with monkeypox
- People who have had multiple sexual partners in the past 2 weeks in an area where monkeypox is known
- People whose work may expose them to orthopoxviruses, such as:
- Lab workers performing orthopoxvirus testing.
- Laboratory workers handling orthopoxvirus-carrying cultures or animals
- Certain designated health or public health officers
What to do?
If you have a new or unexplained rash or other symptoms…
- Avoid close contact, including sex or intimacy with anyone, until you have been seen by a health care provider.
- If you don’t have a provider or health insurance, go to a public health clinic near you.
- When you see a healthcare professional, wear a mask and remind them that this virus is circulating in the area.
For more information on monkeypox, visit https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/index.html