Talk of monkeypox is a daily occurrence in the news and on social media, and we understand if you have questions or concerns about this rare disease, especially as we’re still dealing with COVID-19. Thankfully, monkeypox is not as contagious or dangerous as COVID-19 and experts do not believe it will evolve into a pandemic. Below are key facts and resources to help you stay informed.
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare viral disease that often causes skin lesions and rashes. Monkeypox is in the same family as smallpox, therefore symptoms of monkeypox can be similar to those of smallpox. However, monkeypox is rarely fatal and most cases will likely clear up on their own. “Over 99% of people who get this form of the disease are likely to survive,” says the CDC.
How does monkeypox compare to COVID-19?
Monkeypox, which is usually found in parts of Africa, is spreading across continents; however, there is little threat of a global pandemic, unlike COVID-19.
Other important differences between COVID-19 and monkeypox include:
- Monkeypox does not spread as easily
- Monkeypox is a known virus that has been studied for many years
- Vaccines that could be used to prevent monkeypox already exist
- Monkeypox can only be spread when symptoms are present
What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
Some symptoms of monkeypox may include fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion, painful rash, pus-filled sores and more. Symptoms usually start within three weeks of exposure to the virus and can last anywhere between two to four weeks.
How is monkeypox spread?
While this is a rare disease, the current number of Americans with monkeypox is in the low thousands and rising, making it important that we understand what monkeypox is and how to prevent its spread. Monkeypox can spread to anyone, including children, mostly through skin-to-skin contact, including:
- Contact with rashes, scabs, or bodily fluids from someone with monkeypox
- Touching objects, fabrics or surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox
- Contact with respiratory secretions
It’s also possible for people to get monkeypox from infected animals, through contact with the animal especially through bites or scratches and eating or touching infected meat from that animal.
Who is the disease affecting?
Adults and children of all ages can contract this disease. Pregnant women can also pass the disease to their fetus through the placenta. However, the virus is predominately spreading among the gay community.
Although monkeypox is not considered a sexually transmitted disease, skin-to-skin contact (including intimate/sexual contact) with an infected individual is one of the main ways the disease is spreading.
Is there a vaccine available for monkeypox?
There are currently no treatments specifically for monkeypox. However, due to the similarity to smallpox, antiviral drugs and vaccines that have been used to treat smallpox could be used to treat monkeypox. Therefore, people who have received immunizations for smallpox may have some protection against monkeypox.
The JYNNEOS vaccine has been approved in the U.S. for the prevention of monkeypox and smallpox but is very limited in the United States. It is available only to specific high-risk groups of people outlined at www.ochealthinfo.com/monkeypox/vaccine. The California Division of Public Health (CDPH) is coordinating with local health departments to make more doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine available.
What should I do if I think I may have been exposed?
If you feel that you have been exposed to monkeypox, isolate from other people, and call your primary care physician or urgent care center. You should only get tested if you are experiencing symptoms of monkeypox. In this case your primary care provider may be able to administer a test.
If you are interested in joining a waitlist for the vaccine, the Long Beach Health Department has created a pre-registration form..