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Monkeypox

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Background

Since May 13, 2022, cases of monkeypox have been reported to World Health Organization (WHO) from 12 Member States that are not endemic for monkeypox virus, across three WHO regions. The WHO described this as a “multi-country monkeypox outbreak in non-endemic countries” on May 21, 2022.

On May 20, 2022, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health advisory regarding a confirmed case of monkeypox virus infection in Massachusetts as well as multiple clusters of monkeypox virus infections in other countries that do not usually have monkeypox cases. Anyone can get monkeypox. Currently, most cases have been among persons self-identifying as gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM), but not exclusively. Anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk.

Additionally, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued an updated advisory on May 27 and also issued an advisory on May 20 to health care providers to immediately notify their local health jurisdiction (LHJ) of any potential cases.

For California updates, click here to see CDPH’s monkeypox.

For the US updates, click here for the CDC’s US Monkeypox 2022: Situation Summary.

What is monkeypox and how does it spread?

Monkeypox, a disease caused by infection with monkeypox virus, is a rare disease and does not naturally occur naturally in the US. Monkeypox infections in the US are usually associated with travel to West or Central Africa or contact with imported infected animals. However, as mentioned above, cases of monkeypox have recently been identified in some countries where the virus is not typically found, including in the US, and appear to have spread through human-to-human contact.

Monkeypox can spread when a person has close contact with a person infected with monkeypox virus or when a person comes in contact with materials (e.g., bedding, towels) that are contaminated with the virus. The monkeypox virus can also spread from animals to people.

Symptom onset ranges from 5-21 days.

The monkeypox virus can spread by:

  • Touching monkeypox lesions on a person’s skin
  • Touching contaminated objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, towels), and surfaces that have been in contact with someone with monkeypox
  • Coming into contact with respiratory droplets or secretions from the eyes, nose and mouth from a person with monkeypox

To prevent the spread of the monkeypox virus, persons should avoid:

  • Oral, anal, and vaginal sex, or touching the genitals or anus of someone with monkeypox
  • Hugging, massaging, kissing, or talking closely with someone with monkeypox
  • Touching shared fabrics, shared surfaces, and objects (e.g. sex toys) used by someone with monkeypox

What does monkeypox look like and what are the symptoms?

Rash, bumps, or blisters

Fever & headaches

Muscle Aches

swollen lymph nodes

Early vesticle, 3mm diameter, Individual Monkeypox Skin Lesions close-up
Small pustule, 2mm diameter, Individual Monkeypox Skin Lesions close-up
Umbilicated pustule, 3-4mm diameter, Individual Monkeypox Skin Lesions close-up
Ulcerated lesion, 5mm diameter, Individual Monkeypox Skin Lesions close-up
Crusting of mature lesions, Individual Monkeypox Skin Lesions close-up
Partially removed scab, Individual Monkeypox Skin Lesions close-up

All of the above images are from GOV.UK, https://www.gov.uk/guidance/monkeypox

Early signs may include fever, muscle aches, headache, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion, and sometimes cough or sore throat. A rash may develop often beginning on the face and spreads to other parts of the body, including the hands, feet, eyes, mouth and/or genitals. Rashes may vary in severity between people and change in appearance through infection. Infections can last two to four weeks.

Skin lesions typically begin to develop simultaneously, may appear anywhere on the body, and change from being flat to bumps to blisters before scabbing over and resolving.

Many individuals infected with monkeypox virus have a mild, self-limiting disease with the symptoms lasting from 2 to 4 weeks in the absence of therapy. Monkeypox is usually a self-limited disease. Severe cases can occur.

How can I prevent monkeypox?

The risk to the US population remains low. Those who experience symptoms consistent with monkeypox, such as characteristic rashes or lesions, should contact their health care provider for a risk assessment or call DPH at 2-1-1 for assistance if you do not have a regular provider. This includes anyone who traveled to countries where monkeypox cases have been reported or has had close contact, including sexual contact, with someone who has a similar rash or received a diagnosis of suspected or confirmed monkeypox.

Steps to help prevent monkeypox include:

  • Avoid contact with materials, like bedding, that has been in contact with a sick animal or person infected with this virus
  • Keep infected patients away from others
  • Wash hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after contact with infected animals or humans.
  • Avoid contact with animals that could have the virus (such as animals that are sick or that have been found dead)
  • Wearing a well-fitting mask or respirator by the person with monkeypox and the contact (for children over 2 years of age) when interaction is unavoidable

There is a vaccine that can prevent monkeypox and can be used, under certain circumstances, for the protection of people who are at high risk of exposure to this disease.

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Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.

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