The pandemic has taught us much about the danger of viruses. We know that we can’t ignore infectious diseases or potential signs of illness. You no doubt have been hearing about monkeypox lately. While there is no cause to panic, it is important to understand what this is and how it spreads.

The Facts

Here are 10 facts about monkeypox:

  1. Monkeypox isn’t new, and it’s actually been present is several countries for some time.
  2. The virus doesn’t come from monkeys. It is only called monkeypox because It was first isolated from a monkey. The virus is a “cousin” of smallpox and has similar, thought less severe, symptoms.
  3. As with many infections, monkeypox spreads through large respiratory droplets and bodily fluids. Unlike COVID, it’s not highly contagious. In fact, less than 10% of people who live with someone who has monkeypox gets infected.
  4. Monkeypox starts with flu-like symptoms, including fever and just feeling bad. However, significant swelling of the lymph nodes also is common. After several days, people with monkeypox develop a rash that looks similar to chickenpox or smallpox. This spots eventually curst over and go away.
  5. The strain of monkeypox we’re seeing in this country has a 1% mortality rate. Cases documented in the developed world have rarely resulted in death.
  6. There are both vaccines and antiviral treatments that are available for monkeypox. You can be vaccinated even after you’ve been exposed, and this will at least prevent you from getting seriously ill if you contract the virus.
  7. Unlike COVID, it is very likely that we will contain and stop this outbreak, partly because we already know about this virus, how it spreads, and how to treat it.
  8. While there is no cause for alarm, the virus is getting attention because we’ve seeing the largest outbreak of monkeypox outside of Africa in recent history.
  9. Depending on the severity of the illness and how many pox someone has, monkeypox isn’t excruciatingly painful. Those who are covered in pox are more likely to feel extreme discomfort, while those with just a few don’t feel especially bad.
  10. Because most older people have been vaccinated for smallpox, they don’t appear to be particularly at risk for monkeypox; so you’re not likely to see a lot of cases among your residents. In fact, in Africa children account for the majority of cases.

Stick to Infection Control Basics

Public health experts are still trying to understand the virus’s transmission. They still don’t know if all cases of monkeypox in this country are being reported and accounted for. For the time being, just continue to practice safety precautions including hand washing.

If you encounter a rash in yourself or someone else, immediately contact a physician or other clinician.