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What to Know About Monkeypox 

The U.S. is experiencing a growing number of monkeypox infections, so we want Nurx patients to know the basics about this virus.

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You may feel overwhelmed at the thought of another virus to avoid, so I hate to have to tell you that it’s time to learn about monkeypox. This virus is related to Smallpox and was first discovered in 1958 in monkeys then in humans 1970 in Democratic Republic of Congo. Since then human cases have been very rare and only in central and west Africa . . until now. 

Over the past few months there have been steadily increasing reports of monkeypox in Europe and around the US. And as of today there have been more than 700 cases in the United States. As one of your healthcare providers, the Nurx team wants to keep you informed about this potential health risk, so we put together these FAQs.

How is monkeypox transmitted?

The virus enters the body through broken skin (even if there is no visible wound), the respiratory tract, and mucous membranes such as the mouth and genitals. Human-to-human transmission is believed to happen primarily through large respiratory droplets that normally do not travel greater than a few feet. 

So getting Monkeypox from another person requires prolonged face-to-face contact or direct contact with bodily fluids and lesion material, as well as fluids left on clothing from the lesions. 

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

Many of the signs and symptoms are similar to those of many other viral infections. Symptoms can present usually within 1-2 weeks of infection but some have been as long as 21 days, and include: 

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion 

One symptom that’s more specific to monkeypox is a rash. The rash can be very subtle, with some people experiencing only one or two lesions. Usually the rash starts about 1-2  weeks after the flu-like symptoms.  It is not what many thought it would be, a generalized rash covering the face, trunk and limbs. What we are seeing here are lesions on the genitals or the anus, so it can be mistaken for an STI such as syphilis, and often does not spread to other parts of the body. These lesions tend to be painful and are described as pox-like or ulcer-like, sometimes look like a crater.  The thing that medical providers are noticing is that this rash can really differ from person to person so if you suspect monkeypox please contact your provider right away  

How dangerous is monkeypox?

The symptoms usually last 2-4 weeks. As of yet, no one has died from monkeypox in the US. It can lead to pneumonia and encephalitis (brain infection) which can put one at risk of death. It is especially dangerous for people with compromised immune symptoms and for people who are pregnant. 

How is monkeypox treated?

Receiving a vaccine for smallpox can help reduce the symptoms of monkeypox even after infection, though at the moment smallpox vaccine is not available everywhere. The Biden administration has released 1.6 million vaccines to first serve the MSM population of 800,000. You may look in your area to see if this is available to you. A medical provider may also prescribe antivirals or an injection of immunoglobulin. Health authorities are working to determine whether and how vaccines can be rolled out more broadly.

Who should be concerned about monkeypox?

Most of the cases reported so far have been in men who have sex with men. This isn’t because gay people are more at risk or gay sex is any riskier, but because of certain parties, clubs and events where men who have sex with men were in close contact and many infections occurred.

While men who attend these large gatherings should be aware of the current risk of monkeypox, we must be very careful not to think of this as a gay disease. When we do this we create stigma but more importantly we do a disservice to all others who are at risk as well, because anybody can contract monkeypox. There have been documented cases where people sharing homes have spread it to other in the house including children. 

How can I get tested for monkeypox?

Reach out to your medical provider if you have reason to believe you were exposed to monkeypox. They should be able to collect a sample and send it to a lab for analysis. The nationwide testing laboratory LabCorp has begun testing using a CDC-approved PCR test that is highly effective. They’re currently only testing in their largest labs but hope to ramp up soon to provide up to 10,000 tests per week. It is critical that we increase testing because, as with the early days of Covid, until we are able to test we won’t know the extent of the amount of monkeypox in the US right now.

What should I do if I think I have monkeypox?

If you have had an exposure or suspect that you have monkeypox please contact your medical provider, and if you do not have one seek attention at an urgent care. If you suspect then you should isolate from others for at least 72 hours after your last fever and until you have had no new lesions in the last 48 hours 

For updated information on Monkeypox visit the CDC website.

This blog pro­vides infor­ma­tion about telemed­i­cine, health and related sub­jects. The blog content and any linked materials herein are not intended to be, and should not be con­strued as a substitute for, med­ical or healthcare advice, diagnosis or treatment. Any reader or per­son with a med­ical con­cern should con­sult with an appropriately-licensed physi­cian or other healthcare provider. This blog is provided purely for informational purposes. The views expressed herein are not sponsored by and do not represent the opinions of Nurx™.

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