What to do if you have monkeypox: symptoms, vaccinations, and treatment


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Monkeypox has spread globally over the past few months, prompting government health agencies and hospitals to fear the worst as the world emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Monkeypox is a rare infectious disease that belongs to the same virus family as smallpox and can spread to humans and animals. The disease was first identified in 1958, when two monkeys from an African colony began to develop smallpox-like symptoms. Despite its namesake, the exact origin of the disease is unknown, and a variety of non-human primates can be infected with the virus.

The virus is commonly found in tropical environments in central and western Africa, where animals harbor the disease. The 2022 global outbreak is associated with a resurgence of international travel to countries where the disease is present.

MONKEYPOX USA: Where are the cases now?

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of monkeypox in humans include fever, swollen lymph nodes and a rash that usually dries the skin, according to the World Health Organization. Individuals may experience mild symptoms, but it is unclear whether they can carry the virus without symptoms. These symptoms usually last 2 to 4 weeks from initial exposure.

Monkeypox lesions on a woman’s hand.
(CDC/Getty Images)

The World Health Organization states that signs of a rash usually begin within 24 to 72 hours of a fever, and the rash may be filled with clear or yellowish fluid. The rash is usually concentrated on the face, palms, and soles, but can also spread to the genitals, eyes, and mouth.

Is there a monkeypox vaccine?

Several vaccines used to treat smallpox have increased protection against monkeypox, and those who have been vaccinated against smallpox may also benefit from some protection, according to the World Health Organization. Imvanaex, a vaccine developed against smallpox, was approved in 2019 to help prevent monkeypox, but the drug is unavailable to most people.

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The World Health Organization noted that the vaccine used to treat smallpox in 1980 was not available because it became the first disease to be completely eradicated. Health agencies are working to make the new smallpox vaccine more widely available to the public.

What treatments are available?

Most monkeypox symptoms usually go away on their own without extensive treatment or medical attention. However, the WHO and CDC recommend that you avoid scratching or touching sores on your mouth or eyes.

In severe cases, the World Health Organization recommends vaccine immunoglobulin (VIG), an antiviral drug designed to treat smallpox that was approved in January to treat monkeypox. Patients should also stay hydrated and eat to maintain nutritional status.

Cases of monkeypox can be more severe in children, pregnant women, or people with weakened immune systems.

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How many cases are there?

Since the outbreak began in 2022, as of June 23, there have been 4,106 confirmed cases of monkeypox in 47 different countries around the world, according to data compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, the number of cases in more than 20 U.S. states stands at 173.

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