WHO and CDC warn that monkeypox outbreaks are still occurring through the country.
Monkeypox is an orthopoxvirus which is similar to smallpox. It was first discovered in the mid-20th century when two outbreaks were noted in monkeys and the virus got its name. The first human case was reported in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Thankfully smallpox was eradicated in 1980, but the monkeypox virus is still found in several countries within central and western Africa. This condition produces a rash that is located on the hands, feet, chest, face, and genitals. There may also be flu-like symptoms. The virus generally persists for 3-4 weeks and can be very contagious.
There have been reported isolated outbreaks of monkeypox in the U.S. as of late, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been issuing warnings that the country may see a resurgence of the condition this summer. Most recently, the agency has been investigating some cases detected in the city of Chicago.
Some 21 cases have been reported in the area, the first major outbreak since numbers dropped last fall, and there are concerns that as gatherings start to grow over the summer there may be larger, more frequent outbreaks.
Monkeypox is transmissible through skin-to-skin contact but, according to health officials, is most transmittable through sexual contact. There is, of course, a vaccine for the condition although many of those affected in the most recent outbreak were reported to have had at least the first shot of the vaccine if not both and they still contradicted it.
As is often the case with vaccines, they are effective only to a certain extent and aren’t a foolproof plan to protect against diseases. Rather, their role is to give a person’s body an immune boost to fight off infection and minimize symptoms. According to White House monkeypox task force deputy head Demetre Daskalakis, a vaccine “lowers the risk of catching and spreading the disease.”
It is thought that having both vaccine shots is the best way to fend off infection and will help to either prevent people from contracting the monkeypox altogether or at least limit its consequences. Officials from the World Health Organization (WHO) are calling for more people to get the vaccine, especially those who are most at risk. These include:
- Healthcare workers
- Men in sexual relationships with other men
- People with multiple sexual partners
- Sex workers
Those who have contracted the monkeypox virus should avoid sexual contact with others and limit contact in general. Regular hand washing and wearing a mask are suggested also suggested, along with keeping skin clean and dry. Antivirals such as tecovirimat are being assessed as a potential treatment. This drug was originally created for the treatment of smallpox and may also be helpful in managing monkeypox symptoms.
Experts suggest that, when the rash develops, sufferers do not burst any blisters or scratch sores, and they should not shave areas with active blisters or sores present. Doing so may spread the virus to other areas of the body.