Friday, August 12, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all aspects of our daily life. Now, with the help of available vaccines and booster doses, we can once again enjoy some of the activities we could not during the pandemic. However, there is another virus emerging as a threat to health and safety. On August 4th, the Federal government declared Monkeypox a Health Emergency. Should you be concerned? Information is a key component to prevention. Read on to find out more about Monkeypox and what you can do to protect yourself and others. 

What is Monkeypox? 

Monkeypox is an infectious viral disease that can occur in humans and some animals. It is typically characterized by a rash, fever, and flu-like symptoms. It was declared an emergency because it is spreading in almost all 50 states now, with an exponentially increasing number of cases. The emergency declaration mobilizes funding and highlights the urgency to get this virus under control. 

Who is at risk for Monkeypox?  

The answer is, all of us, unless we work on ending the spread immediately. The demographic that has been hit the worst is ages 24-35. 98% of infections have occurred in LGBTQ men. However, all ages, genders, sexual orientations, and races have been affected by Monkeypox.  

What are the symptoms of Monkeypox? 

Symptoms include fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion, muscle aches and backache, headache, respiratory symptoms (sore throat, nasal congestion, cough). It has a relatively long incubation period as the time from exposure to onset of symptoms ranges from five to twenty-one days. Symptoms can be mild, and some people are even asymptomatic. Monkeypox is contagious from the time symptoms start until the rash has healed, typically 2-4 weeks. 

What can I do to avoid Monkeypox? 

Every contagious disease starts in a particular population and can spread beyond that as it mutates, so it’s important to stay safe even if you don’t fall within the parameters of the most as-risk demographic. Many of the same practices we’ve become familiar with through the COVID-19 pandemic will also help you avoid Monkeypox: 

  • Physical distance 
  • Wear a mask  
  • Wash hands and face regularly 
  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with others (especially with those who have scabs, rashes or are known to be infected)
  • Practice safe sex 

How does one get Monkeypox? 

Monkeypox spreads through consistent skin to skin contact via sexual intercourse, or contact with scabs, rashes, or bodily fluids.  

How can I get a Monkeypox vaccine?  

Unlike where we were when COVID-19 became a pandemic in March of 2020, there are already vaccines that can protect against monkeypox and other pox viruses. The main challenge, however, is a supply shortage. The emergency declaration should help boost supply to slow the spread of this disease. The vaccines are currently reserved for people who have exposed to Monkeypox, people who are immunocompromised and those who already have the virus. If you do not fit any of these categories, you probably do not need a vaccine at this time. Check with your healthcare provider and continue to follow the prevention methods listed above.  

Monkeypox Virtual Informational Event

Join the Chicagoland Vaccine Partnership’s Learning Community for our first session dedicated to Monkeypox. Dr. Evan Lyon will help us learn more about the virus and ways we can protect ourselves and our communities. Register Now!

 Additional Resources

CDC – Monkeypox Signs and Symptoms



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