What is monkeypox and how do you stay safe while it spreads?

“We are ready to take our response to the next level to fight this virus, and we urge all Americans to take this virus seriously and take responsibility for helping us fight this virus,” said Xavier Becerra, Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services. said.

The lesions are usually concentrated on the arms and legs, but in this outbreak they appear more frequently on the genital and perianal area.

“Classically, it presents like many other viral illnesses with what is called a viral prodrome, and symptoms such as fevers, chills, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue and muscle aches are common. Within five days of onset of prodrome, patients develop a rash that can look like pimples or blisters,” said Dr. Jason Zucker, infectious disease specialist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

How is monkeypox spread?

Monkeypox is spread by close contact, According to the CDC. This includes direct physical contact with lesions as well as “respiratory secretions” shared through face-to-face interaction and touching objects that have been contaminated with monkeypox lesions or fluids. The virus can also pass to the fetus through the placenta.
Many cases in the outbreak appear to be linked to sexual contact, often during sex. The CDC says research is ongoing to determine if monkeypox can be spread through semen or vaginal secretions, or if the virus can be spread asymptomatically.

Who is at risk for monkeypox?

Anyone who has been in contact with someone with a rash that looks like monkeypox, or who has been in contact with someone who has a probable or confirmed case of monkeypox, is at high risk of infection.

However, a large number of cases in this outbreak have been men who have sex with men, including gay and bisexual men, and public health officials focus their prevention efforts on this group. The virus is not unique to this communitybut the nature of its spread through close contact resulted in a disproportionate impact.
Should I be worried about monkeypox now?  Our medical analyst explains

“The vast majority of those diagnosed with human ape pox virus to date are self-identifying men who have sex with men,” Zucker said.

“It is probably due to shared sexual networks. So what we see is that they see it first and know the majority of cases. Just like other diseases, there is no reason why ‘it can’t spread to other communities through sex or other close contact,’ he said.

According to the CDCthose most at risk during this outbreak include people who “have had skin-to-skin contact with someone on a social network who is experiencing monkeypox activity”, including men who have sex with men who meet partners online, through an app or at a social event.
People with conditions involving a weakened immune system such as HIV and eczema, and children under 8 may also be at higher risk of serious illness if infected. According to the CDC.

What should I do if I have symptoms of monkeypox?

If you notice a new rash or other symptoms of monkeypox, avoid close contact with other people until you have seen a doctor and been tested.

“When you see a healthcare professional, wear a mask and remind them that the virus is circulating in the area,” says the CDC.

If you are diagnosed with monkeypox, the agency recommends isolation at home and away from family members until the rash or lesions have cleared.

What is the treatment for monkeypox?

According to the CDC, there is no specific approved treatment for monkeypox. But because it is genetically similar to smallpox, doctors may use similar treatments, such as antiviral drugs.
Access to experimental monkeypox treatment remains uneven, doctors say
The CDC is doing doses of tecovirimat, an antiviral medicine also known as Tpoxx, available for monkeypox patients at risk of severe disease. This can include those whose infection has reached the severe stage and people with weakened immune systems. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases also announced a study of Tpoxx as a treatment for monkeypox.
Treatment for monkeypox should also include efforts to manage symptoms and complications, according to the World Health Organization.

Is there a monkeypox vaccine?

Two vaccines are available in the United States to prevent monkeypox, but not everyone is eligible to get one.

The United States has an “adequate supply” of the smallpox vaccine ACAM2000, which can also be used to prevent monkeypox. However, it should not be used in people with certain health conditions, According to the CDC.
Changing the monkeypox vaccine injection method could mean more doses but may not be easy, experts say

“We have 100 million doses of ACAM2000,” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci said in late June, but its side effects mean that “in my mind as a person of public health, would not be worth giving it widely in the general population.”

Another vaccine, Jynneos, is specifically for monkeypox, but it is in short supply. The federal stock is distributed to municipalities based on the number of cases and the population at risk in a given area.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, more than 600,000 doses of Jynneos have been distributed from the National Strategic Stock and another 150,000 doses are expected to arrive in September. The CDC has estimated that at least 1.5 million people in the United States are eligible for the monkeypox vaccination.
The federal government has proposed changing the way vaccines are physically administered, which could mean that the current offer could expand further.
Jynneos is a two-dose vaccine, with a four-week interval between doses. But in the face of shortages, some specialists requested a single-dose regimen until supply improves.

The monkeypox vaccination can be used as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), and outbreak response PEP (PEP++), according to the CDC.

Some lab techs refuse to draw blood from possible monkeypox patients, raising concerns about stigma and testing delays

PrEP refers to vaccinations given to members of high-risk communities, such as laboratory or healthcare workers, before they come into contact with the virus.

PEP means vaccinating people after known exposure to prevent disease or help relieve symptoms. For prevention, the CDC recommends that the vaccine be given up to four days after exposure. PEP given four to 14 days after exposure may result in milder illness.

PEP++ is the CDC’s approach for people with unconfirmed exposure to the virus but with risk factors that may make them more likely to catch it.

“When combined with self-isolation and other preventative measures when symptoms first appear, PEP++ can help slow the spread of disease in areas with large numbers of case of monkeypox,” the CDC says.

Can I get vaccinated?

Demand for the Monkeypox vaccine is high, but supply shortages and eligibility restrictions mean it may be hard to find at this stage.

Testing is crucial to bringing monkeypox under control, but there is a situation

Vaccine eligibility remains somewhat strict.

People who are known and confirmed contacts of people with monkeypox can be vaccinated. Also eligible are suspected contacts who have had a sexual partner in the past 14 days diagnosed with monkeypox, those who have had multiple sexual partners in the past 14 days in an area where monkeypox is spreading, and those whose work may expose them to monkeypox, according to the CDC.

If you think you meet any of these criteria and want to know your eligibility, contact your doctor or local health department.

How can I protect myself?

The CDC recommends Avoid close contact or sharing objects with someone who has monkeypox. Frequent hand washing is also recommended.
For social gatherings including parties, raves, clubs and festivals, the CDC says to stick to events with more clothing, where skin-to-skin contact may be less frequent.
Avoid sex or close physical intimacy if anyone involved has monkeypox. The The CDC recommends specifically to avoid touching any rash that may be on a partner’s body. To help prevent the spread of monkeypox during sexual activity, maintaining a 6-foot distance, keeping clothing on during sex, and using condoms and/or gloves can reduce the risk of exposure.

“However, condoms alone may not prevent all exposures to monkeypox because the rash can occur on other parts of the body,” the CDC states.

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