Monkeypox is a rapidly spreading virus. This virus is very similar to the smallpox virus and is being heavily researched right now. Here’s what you should know about monkeypox.
How is monkeypox spread?
Monkeypox can be spread between people through close contact with skin lesions or by touching a contaminated object. It can also be spread through bodily secretions, according to the CDC. During pregnancy, it is possible for monkeypox to be spread from mother to baby. It is currently not evaluated as at high risk for most people.
What are the symptoms?
The time between infection and first sign of symptoms is usually between 7 to 14 days but can range from 5 to 21 days. Before you show symptoms, you are not contagious. Some people may exhibit early onset symptoms that include:
Sore throat (occasionally)
Swollen lymph nodes. These are a key distinguishing feature of monkeypox from smallpox. Your lymph nodes may swell in your neck, armpits or groin and could swell on one or both sides of your body.
Not everyone will experience these symptoms, but they can occur before or after a rash develops. There is a chance you can be contagious during these early symptoms, but when you begin to develop lesions and rashes, you are contagious with monkeypox. Initially, you may notice lesions in your mouth. These lesions may then spread to your skin, while being mostly concentrated on your face, arms and legs.
These rashes will become raised and filled with fluid. After about 2 weeks, the rashes will begin to scab over. Do not scratch or pick at these bumps.
After your scabs have fallen off, you may have some pitted scarring and/or areas of lighter or darker skin. You are no longer contagious after all scabs are gone. Monkeypox typically lasts between 2-4 weeks.
How is monkeypox diagnosed?
In order to diagnose monkeypox, a doctor will likely need to take samples from your skin lesions for testing. Doctors will look at your lymph nodes for swelling, as well.
Be prepared to share key information including:
Date when fever began
Date when rash began
How your rash has progressed since it began
Vaccinations for monkeypox.
There are currently two vaccines (Jynneos and ACAM2000), approved by the FDA for the prevention of smallpox and/or monkeypox disease. If administered before exposure to the virus, these vaccines can help protect people against poxvirus infections, such as monkeypox. They may also help or may lessen the symptoms of disease when given between 4-14 days after exposure.
These vaccines will not treat or get rid of the poxvirus infection or disease once you have them. There is no proven way to treat poxviruses, but research is ongoing.
Treatment of monkeypox.
There are currently is no specific monkeypox treatment but, if you’re severely ill, there is one drug that may help. Tecovirimat is a drug that has potential to help treat infections caused by poxviruses and reactions to the smallpox vaccine. It is currently FDA-approved to treat smallpox. While tecovirimat is not FDA-approved for the treatment of monkeypox, the FDA has determined that tecovirimat may help treat infection, including serious or potentially life-threatening disease, from pox viruses. It comes in both pill and IV infusion form. If you have monkeypox, talk to your doctor to see if tecovirimat is appropriate for you.
You may benefit from supportive therapy (such as IV fluids, or medicine to control fever or pain) and antibiotics for bacterial infections. There may be other medications that your doctor could consider using to treat your infection. As always, discuss any questions you have with your doctor.