What is Monkeypox and is there a treatment?

What is Monkeypox and is there a treatment?

Monkeypox virus is a disease that typically affects rodents or nonhuman primates, but may occur in humans. It is native to Central and Western Africa but may spread due to international travel, imported animals, or close contact with an animal or person with monkeypox. The symptoms of Monkeypox include: fever, rash, headache, muscle aches, chills, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes. Symptoms may begin after 5-21 days from exposure and can last 2-4 weeks.

The progression of symptoms usually begins with the fever, with a rash following 1-4 days after onset. The rash may present on the face, hands, feet or other body parts. The rash progresses in appearance from flat spots to blisters that fill with pus, eventually these blisters scab over and fall off in 2-4 weeks. Monkeypox is contagious while you have symptoms.

The virus spreads through close contract with respiratory droplets from an infected person, sexual contact, clothes or other materials that have been in contact with rashes or body fluids of the infected person. Transmission may also occur vertically from positive pregnant women to their fetus. 

Treatment of monkeypox is done with antiviral drugs used to treat smallpox, like tecovirimat (TPOXX) or brincidofovir (Tembexa). Vaccinia immune globulin can be offered for those that are unlikely to respond to the antiviral drugs. If you think you have monkeypox, isolate yourself in a room at home away from family and pets until symptoms reside. Complications may include severe scarring, blindness, other infections, and death in severe cases. 

The current outbreak of monkeypox is called the West African type and rarely leads to death. Monkeypox is still considered rare in the United States. It is important to know that monkeypox does not spread easily between people without close contact. If you believe you are having any symptoms of monkeypox, please contact your health care provider.

This article reviewed by Dr. Jim Liu, MD and Ms. Deb Dooley, APRN.

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