“We’re prepared to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus, and we urge every American to take this virus seriously and to take responsibility to help us tackle this virus,” US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said.
The lesions typically concentrate on the arms and legs, but in this outbreak, they’re showing up more frequently on the genital and perianal area.
“Classically, it presents like many other viral illnesses with what’s called a viral prodrome, and symptoms like fevers, chills, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue and muscle aches are common. Within five days of the prodrome starting, patients develop a rash that can look like pimples or blisters,” said Dr. Jason Zucker, an infectious diseases specialist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
How is monkeypox spread?
Who is at risk of monkeypox?
Anyone who has had contact with someone with a monkeypox-like rash, or who has had contact with someone who has a probable or confirmed case of monkeypox, is at high risk for infection.
“The vast majority of those who have been diagnosed to date with human monkeypox virus are self-identifying men who have sex with men,” Zucker said.
“This is likely due to shared sexual networks. So what we’re seeing is, they’re seeing it first and experiencing the majority of cases. Just like other diseases, there’s no reason it can’t spread to other communities via sexual or other close contact,” he said.
What should I do if I have monkeypox symptoms?
If you notice a new rash or other monkeypox symptoms, avoid any close contact with other people until you have seen a doctor and gotten tested.
If you’re diagnosed with monkeypox, the agency recommends isolation at home and away from family members until the rash or lesions are gone.
What’s the treatment for monkeypox?
Is there a monkeypox vaccine?
Two vaccines are available in the US to prevent monkeypox, but not everyone is eligible to get one.
“We have 100 million doses of ACAM2000,” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said in late June, but its side effects mean that it “in my mind as a public health person, would not be worth giving it widely throughout the general population.”
Another vaccine, Jynneos, is specifically intended for monkeypox, but it’s in short supply. Federal stock is being distributed to municipalities based on the number of cases and the population at risk in a given area.
Monkeypox vaccination can be used as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and outbreak response PEP (PEP++), according to the CDC.
PrEP refers to vaccinations given to members of high-risk communities, such as lab or health care workers, before they may come into contact with the virus.
PEP means vaccinating people after a known exposure to prevent disease or help ease symptoms. For prevention, the CDC recommends that the vaccine be given up to four days after exposure. PEP given four to 14 days after exposure may result in milder disease.
PEP++ is the CDC approach for people with unconfirmed exposure to the virus but with risk factors that may make them more likely to get it.
“When coupled with self-isolation and other prevention measures when symptoms first occur, PEP++ may help slow the spread of the disease in areas with large numbers of monkeypox cases,” the CDC says.
Can I get a vaccine?
Monkeypox vaccine demand is high, but supply shortages and eligibility restrictions mean it can be difficult to find at this point.
Eligibility for the vaccines remains somewhat strict.
People who are known, confirmed contacts of people with monkeypox are eligible to be vaccinated. Also eligible are presumed contacts who had a sex partner in the past 14 days diagnosed with monkeypox, those who had multiple sex partners in the past 14 days in an area where monkeypox is spreading, and those whose jobs may expose them to monkeypox, according to the CDC.
If you think you meet one of these criteria and want to find out about your eligibility, contact your doctor or your local health department.
How do I keep myself safe?
“However, condoms alone may not prevent all exposures to monkeypox, since the rash can occur on other parts of the body,” the CDC says.