The U.S. monkeypox outbreak is spreading, but vaccines and other treatments are available.
Why it matters
As the outbreak continues, more people will be diagnosed with or exposed to monkeypox in the coming weeks.
What does this mean for you?
Anyone in close contact with a person with the disease can get it, but monkeypox doesn’t spread as easily as COVID-19 or the flu. The most affected people now are men who have sex with men.
The monkeypox outbreak is now officially considered aIn the United States. is not a new disease, but the fact that it is spreading in countries where it does not normally occur Yippee New. Additionally, the symptoms of monkeypox in this outbreak seem to present themselves a bit differently. People today get rashes anywhere on the body, as opposed to the more “classic” rash of the past that started on the face and spread from there.
Do you think you might have monkey pox or have been recently exposed? Take a deep breath: It’s normal to feel restless or unsure, especially if your symptoms are causing you pain. But unlike the early days of COVID-19, there are already tried and true treatments and guidelines for monkeypox, because diseases like them are not entirely new to us. Monkeypox is related to smallpox and is endemic in some African countries.
Here’s what the guidelines say to do if you are sick or have been exposed to monkeypox.
What to do if you have been exposed to monkey pox
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you have been exposed to monkeypox if you have very close contact with man with monkey pox. This includes things like sex, kissing, contact with their rash or sores through hugging or sharing a towel, bed or clothing. Monkey pox can also be spread through prolonged personal contact; researchers are studying whether it spreads in bodily fluids such as semen and vaginal fluid.
Get the vaccine if you can
If you have been exposed to monkeypox in the past two weeks and have no symptoms, you should contact your local health department to see if you are susceptible. The vaccine is most effective if given within four days of exposure, but may still be effective in reducing the severity of symptoms if given between four days and two weeks after initial exposure.
While the criteria for who can get it varies from city to city depending on how widespread it is in a certain area, chances are if you’ve been exposed you live in an area that offers the vaccine. In areas such as New York, San Francisco, Denver and other large cities, gay and bisexual men who have had multiple or anonymous sexual partners in the past two weeks are eligible for the vaccine, regardless of whether they have been officially exposed.
Unfortunately, the demand for the vaccine was high and the supply relatively low. To ensure your best chances of getting the vaccine early and to find out what other resources are available to you, you should call your doctor in addition to the health department.
If you are at higher risk of serious illness from monkeypox (for example, you have an immunocompromised condition), talk to your doctor to see if other treatments or antivirals are available for you after exposure.
Watch for symptoms
Right now, the CDC says you can go about your daily activities if you’ve been exposed to monkeypox but don’t have any symptoms, while continuing to watch and monitor it. You don’t need to self-isolate because you’re not contagious until symptoms start (if they do). Common symptoms of monkeypox. You may also have pain in the anus or mouth if the rash is spreading there.
The CDC also recommends taking your temperature twice a day to monitor any fever that develops.
If you develop symptoms or feel that something is not quite right, you should avoid close contact with people and follow the instructions below.
What to do if you have monkey pox
If you’ve seen a doctor and the test confirmed it, or you’ve been directly exposed and have all the symptoms of monkeypox, you should isolate yourself from other people and stay home until your symptoms clear, according to the CDC. This includes avoiding public transport where you may be in close contact with other people’s bodies.
You are considered infectious until you develop sores or a rash and a new layer of skin forms. The entire illness usually lasts two to four weeks. You should also call your health care provider immediately to find out next steps, including whether you need further treatment.
How do I know if I have monkey pox?
Symptoms usually appear within three weeks of close contact with a person with monkeypox. Common symptoms of monkeypox include:
- A rash or spots anywhere on the body, including the genital area, anus, hands, face, chest, or mouth. For some people, sores can really hurt.
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Muscle pain
- Respiratory symptoms such as cough or stuffy nose
You may experience all or just some of these symptoms. For people who have flu-like symptoms, the rash usually forms one to four days after you start feeling sick.
The only way to confirm a case of monkeypox is to have a test done by a health care provider that includes swabs from the lesions. Testing capacity is improving in the US, but it may still take a while for your results to come back. While you wait, you should continue to isolate as long as you have symptoms, according to the CDC.
Isolate yourself at home
CDC guidance for home isolation for people with monkeypox is to avoid close contact and intimacy with people (hugging, kissing, sex, etc.). The agency also says you should avoid sharing bedding and towels. (Like a towel you use to wipe your hands.)
If you live with other people and are around them at home, you should wear a mask for extra protection.
If going out is unavoidable or you live with other people, cover the rash or sores with well-fitting clothing such as trousers or long shirts, and gloves if the rash has spread to the hands.
If possible, you should also use a different bathroom than other people in your household and avoid sharing food, dishes or used utensils.
If the only option is to use the same bathroom, the person with monkeypox should disinfect common areas (toilet seat, shower, bathroom counter, etc.) with disinfectant after use and wear gloves if necessary, the CDC says.
Personal care tips
If you wear contacts, you shouldn’t wear them when you’re sick to avoid accidental eye infection with monkeypox, according to the CDC. If you shave, you should stop shaving any part of your body that is covered in the rash for the time being.
Poxviruses like monkeypox can survive on clothing and surfaces, according to the CDC, so it’s important to disinfect things you’ve touched when you’re contagious. While it’s not entirely clear how much of a risk it is to spread in public places, there are precautions you should take if you wash your clothes in a public laundromat. New York City has its own guidelines for washing laundry with monkeypox, and the CDC recommends contacting your local health department to find the best “washing option.”
Avoid contact with animals
Unfortunately, monkeypox is a zoonotic disease, meaning it is transmitted from animals to humans. This means that there is a chance that you can infect your dog, cat, or other animal that is a mammal, such as a rat. (Animals other than mammals, such as reptiles, birds, and fish, probably can’t get monkeypox, according to the CDC.) Technically, it’s currently unknown whether cats and dogs can get monkeypox, but since they can be infected with other orthopoxviruses, it’s best assume they can also catch monkey pox.
If possible, the CDC recommends that someone else care for your pet while you are sick or recovering from monkeypox. If this is not possible, keep them away from dressings, beds, towels or other materials that may be contaminated.
If you notice that your pet is behaving differently or think they may be sick after contact with a person with monkeypox, contact your personal veterinarian or state animal health official.
Do I need treatment for monkeypox?
Most people who have monkeypox do not need further treatment, and the guideline will be to stay at home and manage the symptoms. However, some people have lesions that are quite painful, in which case you should call your doctor for help with pain management. Dr. Bernard Camins, medical director of infection prevention at Mount Sinai Health System, told The New York Times that a doctor may recommend sitz baths or stool softeners when appropriate.
No deaths from monkeypox have been reported in the US out of more than 7,500 cases. But some people are more at risk for serious illness or may require additional treatment, including immunocompromised people, children younger than 8, people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and people with skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, according to the CDC.
There are several drugs or antivirals that the CDC lists as possible treatments for monkeypox in some patients. For example, Tecovirimat (TPOXX) and Brencidofovir have both been approved to treat smallpox and are also thought to work against monkeypox.
If you think you may be at higher risk for a serious illness and your doctor hasn’t already offered you treatment options, ask what might be available to you.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions regarding health conditions or health goals.