What is monkeypox, how contagious is it and should you be concerned? Here’s what we know about the virus.
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare disease related to smallpox. It was discovered in 1958 when an outbreak happened in a colony of monkeys kept for research.
It was first seen in humans in 1970. Since then, it has only been documented six times outside of Africa.
The disease spreads through inhalation of respiratory droplets from an infected person or some contact with the lesions the virus causes. You can also get the virus by contact with bodily fluids or by having contact with such things as an infected person’s bed linen.
How dangerous is it?
The risk to the general public is low at this time, according to a U.S. public health official. The West African strain of the virus that was identified in a U.S. case has a fatality rate of around 1%.
It does not spread as easily as the novel coronavirus responsible for COVID-19.
“COVID is spread by respiratory route and is highly infectious. This doesn’t appear to be the case with the monkeypox,” Dr. Martin Hirsch of Massachusetts General Hospital told Reuters.
David Heymann, an infectious disease specialist, told Reuters that the monkeypox being seen now is sexually transmitted.
Most people fully recover in two to four weeks.
What are the symptoms?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, monkeypox begins with:
· Muscle aches
· Swollen lymph nodes
Within one to three days after having a fever, the patient develops a rash, often beginning on the face then spreading to other parts of the body.
Can it be treated?
According to the CDC, “Currently, there is no proven, safe treatment for monkeypox virus infection. For controlling a potential outbreak, the smallpox vaccine is given.”
The U.S. government says it has enough smallpox vaccine stored in its Strategic National Stockpile to vaccinate the entire U.S. population, according to Reuters.
What is the incubation period?
The incubation period for monkeypox — or the time in between coming into contact with someone who has the virus and when symptoms appear — is between three and 17 days, according to the CDC.
The CDC has asked for a 21-day monitoring period for those who have come into close contact with a person diagnosed with monkeypox.
The illness typically lasts for two to four weeks and most people fully recover from the virus.
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