Scientists around the world are paying close attention to the unusual growth of monkeypox cases.
In mid-May 2022, a person in Massachusetts tested positive for the virus after traveling to Canada. Since then, 65 cases of monkey pox have been reported in the United States, including 11 cases in New York. CDC scientists are working to determine the origin of the case and prevent the spread of the disease to anyone else.
Our Rochester Regional Health experts share the basic details of this disease and what people need to know.
What is monkeypox?
First discovered in the 1950s, monkeypox is a rare disease caused by a virus. Its name comes from an initial discovery in a colony of monkeys in a research facility. The first known human case occurred in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Monkeypox is mainly transmitted from animals to humans. This may be due to the close relationship between animals and humans or the eating of uncooked contaminated animal meat.
The Monkeypox virus can also be transmitted from human to human.
From the time a person becomes infected until the onset of symptoms, the time interval is approximately 7-21 days.
People infected with the virus will experience the following symptoms:
- Back pain
- Muscle aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
According to the CDC, an infected person will show signs of a rash within 1-3 days of having a fever. The rash usually starts on the face and spreads to other parts of the body.
Researchers describe that the eruption is initially flat, then lifts and eventually hardens and fills with fluid that passes over the crust before becoming indented.
Typically, a person who contracts monkeypox will have a disease that lasts for 2-4 weeks.
Alleged cases are tested for the virus using a sample taken directly from a person’s rash. The sample is made by a PCR test to match the viral DNA sequence.
For the most part, interpersonal transmission occurs through close physical contact with a symptomatic person. This can be:
- Direct contact with ulcers, injuries or wounds
- Sharing clothes, bedding, towels or utensils
- Drops of the virus
An infected person who is pregnant can spread the virus to the fetus through the placenta, or through skin contact at birth or after.
Early data collected by the World Health Organization and the CDC suggest that homosexuals, bisexuals, and other men who have sex with men have the most confirmed cases so far.
Concerns, treatment and prevention
The World Health Organization does not consider the monkey to be a major concern because it needs close physical contact with infected people to spread it.
Approximately 90 percent of monkeypox cases resolve after the infection period. However, some infected people can become seriously ill or die as a result of the virus.
It is very difficult for most people to come in contact with an individual infected with a monkey. But for health workers or those who come in contact, they can help prevent infection:
- Avoid direct contact with an infected person
- Practice proper hand hygiene after having a direct relationship with a person
- Use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for patient care
If necessary, several approved antiviral medications are available by prescription, as well as a vaccine to prevent smallpox and monkey infection approved by the FDA in September 2019.
If you have a rash that looks like a monkeypox – even if you haven’t been in contact with someone with a monkey – check with your primary care provider to find out what to do.
Rochester County Health Infectious Disease
With the work and dedication of our board-certified physicians, Rochester Regional Health provides clinical services and advice on the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic infectious diseases, expertise and leadership in epidemiology and infection control programs.