Atlantic City, NJ
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, the world as we knew it turned upside down. Schools shut down, social distancing was enforced, and people had to wear a mask in public. After about two years of chaos, the pandemic began to die down and life started to return to normal. However, recently there has been a new disease spreading around the globe called monkeypox. What is monkeypox? How does it spread? What are the treatments? What precautions do we need to take? Let’s dive into this spreading virus.
Let’s start with discussing what exactly monkeypox is as well as a little background information. According to the CDC, “monkeypox is a part of the same family as the variola virus, which causes smallpox. It is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus.” Many think that monkeypox appeared only this year, when in fact monkeypox first appeared all the way back in 1958, when an outbreak of a pox-like disease materialized in groups of monkeys kept for research. Before the 2022 outbreak, cases of monkeypox had been reported in several central and western African countries.
The reason monkeypox can spread so easily is because it spreads through close contact. This means that something as little as a handshake or even a high five with someone that has been infected could mean contracting the virus. Even if you touch an item that someone with monkeypox previously touched, you are at risk for contracting the virus. Monkeypox is not only spread through humans, it can also be spread through infected animals. It is still unclear whether or not the virus can be spread when someone has no symptoms.
Monkeypox symptoms include a painful or itchy rash in areas such as the face, hands, mouth, feet, or chest. An individual that has been infected with monkeypox may also experience fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion, muscle aches and backache, headache, and respiratory symptoms. It is possible to not experience all of these symptoms and just a few. Symptoms usually start within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus. Most people develop a rash 1-4 days after having flu-like symptoms. The good news is that monkeypox is very rarely fatal and usually lasts about 2-4 weeks.
As of right now, there are no treatments for monkeypox. The virus usually goes away by itself after 2-4 weeks, and most people heal without needing any medicinal help. However, since monkeypox and smallpox are genetically similar, antiviral medicine and vaccines developed to treat smallpox may be able to be used in order to treat monkeypox.
In order to protect yourself from monkeypox remember to avoid close skin-to-skin contact with people who possess a rash that looks very similar to monkeypox. Also, avoid contact with objects that someone infected has touched. Remember to wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol based hand sanitizer. The CDC recommends that people who have been exposed to monkeypox and people with compromised immune systems get vaccinated. The preferred vaccine to protect against monkeypox is JYNNEOS, which is administered in two doses, and takes 14 days after the second dose to reach the maximum immune protection.
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