August 5, 2022
The World Health Organization has declared Monkeypox a global public health emergency. Mia Taormina, DO, FACOI, chair of Duly’s Infectious Disease department answers the most common questions about this virus.
What is Monkeypox?
A rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. It belongs to the same genus that includes variola virus (which causes smallpox), vaccinia virus (used in the smallpox vaccine) and cowpox virus.
How is Monkeypox transmitted?
Monkeypox can spread through close, personal, skin to skin contact or from respiratory droplets
- Primarily spread through direct contact with sores, scabs, or body fluids
- The virus may also spread through contact with materials that have touched body fluids or sore, such as clothing and linens.
Monkeypox is NOT contagious until symptoms are present. Incubation period is from 5 days to 3 weeks, with most experiencing symptoms 1 – 2 weeks after exposure.
What are the symptoms of Monkeypox?
- Body aches (can be severe)
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Telltale rash appears 1 – 2 days later:
- After appearance of fever, the patient develops a rash. Lesions often begin on the lips/inside mouth then spread to other parts of the body.
- Lesions are flat-based and may itch initially and can be painful.
- Lesions progress through the following stages before falling off:
- Days 1 – 2: Macules
- Day 3: Papules: firm, raised lesion (lasts 1 – 2 days)
- Days 4 – 5: Vesicles: raised, fluid filled lesions (lasts 1 – 2 days)
- Days 6 – 7: Pustules: filled with opaque, yellowish fluid
- Day 7+: Scabs: can take another week+ for lesions to crust over
What is the length of illness and transmission?
The illness typically lasts 2 – 4 weeks. Once all scabs have fallen off, the individual is no longer considered contagious.
What are the testing options for Monkeypox?
If you think you have been exposed to Monkeypox, visit a healthcare provider for testing. Specimens will be collected by your healthcare provider and sent to a laboratory for testing.
What are the treatment options for Monkeypox?
There are no treatments specifically for monkeypox virus infections. However, monkeypox and smallpox viruses are genetically similar, which means that antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox may be used to prevent and treat monkeypox virus infections.
How can I avoid contracting or transmitting Monkeypox?
Patients who have been exposed to a confirmed case of Monkeypox should be monitored for symptoms for 21 days after their last exposure.
- Contacts should be instructed to monitor their temperature twice daily.
If symptoms develop, patients should self-isolate and contact their healthcare provider for assistant with scheduling (telemedicine is preferred).
Asymptomatic patients can continue routine daily activities (e.g., go to work, school).
- Contacts should not donate blood, cells, tissue, breast milk, semen, or organs while they are under symptom surveillance.
The health department should contact you if you have been exposed to a known case. You can also reach out to your local health department.
Is there a Monkeypox vaccine?
A vaccine is available but is tightly regulated. Your healthcare provider will determine if you are eligible for vaccination.