Currently, there is a 2022 outbreak of the Monkeypox virus. Monkeypox is a disease caused by an infection of the monkeypox virus, which is a member of the same family of viruses like smallpox. Before the current global outbreak, there were cases reported in central and western African countries. The first case in a human was initially documented in 1970, and the primary source of the disease has still not been identified.
After being infected with monkeypox, individuals will usually be in an incubation period for about 1-2 weeks, where there are no symptoms and the virus is not contagious. Following the incubation period, individuals with monkeypox will enter the prodrome period, typically experiencing the initial symptoms of fever, headache, chills, fatigue, enlarged lymph nodes, myalgias, sore throat, nasal congestion, and cough.
After the prodrome period, people will usually notice a skin eruption of the body and mouth. This is the time of the virus where individuals are contagious and need to limit the spread as much as possible. The skin characteristics of this condition is a rash resembling pimples or blisters, which can be itchy and even cause pain. This skin eruption can be in different areas of the body such as the hands, feet, chest, face, mouth, or around the genital area. Typically the active lesions then turn into scabs during the course of monkeypox. An individual is no longer contagious when the monkeypox scabs are completely gone and a new skin layer is produced.
Monkeypox is caused by person-to-person contact. It can be spread through direct contact of monkeypox skin lesions, scabs, or body fluids of an individual who has monkeypox. Even touching certain objects contaminated by monkeypox can cause the spread of this virus. Furthermore, monkeypox can spread from a pregnant woman through the placenta to the fetus.
Unfortunately, there are currently no specific medications for monkeypox. Instead, antiviral treatment and vaccines that were made to help individuals prevent and treat smallpox, which can be used for monkeypox as well. Thus, it is essential to prevent monkeypox by regularly washing hands with soap and water, using hand sanitizers, and avoiding skin exposure to individuals with skin symptoms resembling monkeypox!
The information above is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Megan Bacall, PA-C