Your Monkeypox Questions Answered


Dr. Jason Sellers

As we are all recovering from over two years of pandemic life, the latest monkeypox outbreak has added a new health concern to the mix. However, though we should be cautious and informed on what to watch out for, monkeypox is not another COVID-19.

A doctor in a face mask applying a band aid to a face-masked male patient's arm

What is it?

Monkeypox is a virus that has actually been around since 1970. It is related to smallpox, but fortunately it is much less severe and less contagious. In the past it has been present primarily in areas of Central and West Africa, but has more recently evolved into a global outbreak.

The symptoms usually include an initial period of flu-like symptoms such as fever/chills, fatigue, headache, and body aches, followed by a characteristic rash that forms small bumps or blisters that may resemble chicken pox. Though uncomfortable, the illness typically goes away on its own without any more serious symptoms.

Who is getting it?

Transmission occurs primarily through close contact with the infectious skin rash. The current outbreak has been largely associated with sexual contact, however the virus can be spread by any close skin-to-skin contact. It can also be spread through indirect contact with infected surfaces such as unwashed clothing or bedding, or prolonged exposure to respiratory droplets (ie, through face-to-face contact).

Current understanding is that monkeypox is most contagious when people are showing symptoms. If you think you’ve been exposed to someone who has been confirmed to have monkeypox, you should contact your doctor to discuss monitoring and whether you would qualify for a vaccine. You can protect yourself by avoiding contact with others who are displaying symptoms consistent with monkeypox.

Do I need to be concerned?

It is important to remember that monkeypox is not COVID-19. It is much less contagious and is much better studied as it has been around for decades. While the illness itself is uncomfortable, it is rarely life threatening. If you have additional concerns, feel free to chat with your Radish doctor with any questions or for additional information.

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