Adapted from Harvard Medical School news.
What to Know About Monkeypox
If you have questions about suspected symptoms, physically distance yourself from others, wear a mask, and call your primary care provider or contact Tufts Medical Center's dedicated student line at 617-636-6006 to request more information. The phone line's hours of operation are Monday–Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Note that direct medical care is not available on campus.
All Boston residents living in the City of Boston who are diagnosed with monkeypox are contacted and followed by the Boston Public Health Commission’s Infectious Diseases Bureau throughout their disease course to provide information and support.
If you have any questions please contact email@example.com.
Symptoms of monkeypox
The symptoms of monkeypox are similar to the flu:
- headache, and
- enlarged lymph nodes.
However, what differentiates monkeypox from the flu is the rash that appears several days after infection which usually begins on the face and then can appear on other parts of the body. Recent reports indicates the rash can begin on the genitals. Over several weeks, the rash changes from small spots to tiny blisters similar to chickenpox, and then to larger, pus-filled blisters. These can take several weeks to scab over at which point you are no longer contagious.
Contact with infected animals, through a bit or scratch for example, is typically the way in which individuals contract monkeypox.
Data indicates monkeypox spreads between people in three ways:
- touching an infected person;
- inhaling respiratory droplets of an infected person for a prolonged period of time (less common); or
- through indirect contact such as handling an infected person’s clothing (least likely).
Is monkeypox a sexually transmitted illness?
Monkeypox is not considered a sexually transmitted illness (STI) because it can be spread through any physical contact.
Can monkeypox be treated?
Yes. Although there are no specific, FDA-approved treatments for monkeypox, several antiviral medicines may be effective. Examples are cidofovir, brincidofovir, and tecovirimat.
Can monkeypox be prevented?
Vaccination can help prevent this illness. Smallpox vaccination may be up to 85 percent effective against monkeypox. Additionally, the FDA approved a vaccine (called JYNNEOS) in 2019 for people over 18 who are at high risk for smallpox or monkeypox. The makers of this vaccine are ramping up production as this outbreak unfolds. For more information on vaccination in Massachusetts visit the State's Department of Public Health site.
If you are caring for someone who has monkeypox, taking these steps may help protect you from the virus:
- wear a mask and gloves,
- regularly wash your hands, and
- practice physical distancing when possible.
Ideally, a caregiver should be previously vaccinated against smallpox.
How sick are most people who get monkeypox?
Monkeypox is usually a mild illness that gets better on its own over a couple of weeks.
Researchers have found that the West African strain of monkeypox is responsible for the current outbreak. That’s good news, because the death rate from this strain is much lower than the Congo Basin strain (about 1 percent to 3 percent versus 10 percent). More severe illness may occur in children, pregnant people, or people who are immunocompromised.
What else is unusual about this outbreak?
Many of those who are sick have not traveled to or from places where this virus is usually found, and have had no known contact with infected animals. In addition, there seems to be more person-to-person spread than in past outbreaks.
Is there any good news about monkeypox?
Yes. Monkeypox typically is contagious after symptoms begin. One reason COVID-19 spread so rapidly was that people could spread it before they knew they had it.
Perhaps the best news is this: unlike SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, monkeypox is unlikely to cause a pandemic. It doesn’t spread as easily, and by the time a person is contagious they usually know they are sick.
How worried should we be?
The growing numbers of cases in multiple countries suggest community spread is underway. Inform your primary care provider if you develop an unexplained rash or other symptoms of monkeypox.