What to do if you take Monkeypox: symptoms, vaccinations and treatments

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In recent months, monkeypox has spread around the world, prompting health agencies and government hospitals to respond as the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Monkeypox is a rare infectious disease of the same virus family as smallpox and can be transmitted to humans and animals. The disease was first discovered in 1958 when two African monkeys from the colony began to develop smallpox-like symptoms. Despite its namesake, the exact source of this disease is unknown, and various non-human primates can infect people with the virus.

The virus is typically found in tropical environments in Central and West Africa, where disease-carrying animals live. The global outbreak of 2022 has been linked to the resumption of international travel to countries where the disease is present.

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What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of monkeypox in humans include fever, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash that typically dries the skin, according to the World Health Organization. Individuals may experience mild symptoms, but the ability to carry the virus without symptoms is currently unknown. These symptoms typically last between 2 and 4 weeks after initial exposure.

A monkeypox injury on a woman's hand.

A monkeypox injury on a woman’s hand.
(CDC / Getty Images)

The WHO notes that the signs of a rash usually begin within 24 to 72 hours of the onset of the fever, and the lesions may have filled with clear or yellowish fluid. The rash typically focuses on the face, palms, and soles of the feet, but it can also spread to the genitals, eyes, and mouth.

Is there a vaccine for Monkeypox?

Several vaccines used to treat smallpox add protection against monkeypox, and even those who have been vaccinated against smallpox may have some protection, according to the WHO. Imvanaex is a vaccine developed for smallpox and was approved in 2019 to help prevent monkeypox, but the drug is not accessible to most of the public.

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The WHO notes that the vaccines used to treat smallpox in the 1980s are not available because it became the first disease to be completely eradicated. Health agencies are working to make the new smallpox vaccines more widely available to the public.

What are the treatments?

Most monkeypox symptoms typically resolve on their own without the need for extensive treatment or medical attention. However, WHO and the CDC recommend avoiding scratching or touching wounds on the mouth or eyes.

In severe cases, WHO recommends the use of vaccine immunoglobulins (VIGs), an antiviral made to treat smallpox that was approved for the treatment of monkeypox in January. Patients should also stay hydrated and eat food to maintain their nutritional status.

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Cases of monkeypox can be more severe in children, pregnant women, or individuals who have compromised immune systems.

How many cases?

Since the outbreak began in 2022, confirmed cases of Monkeypox worldwide amount to 26,208 confirmed cases in 87 different countries as of August 4, according to data compiled by the CDC. Furthermore, the number of cases in the United States is 6,617 cases in more than 48 states.

Recently, California, New York and Illinois, along with several other major municipalities, have all declared a state of emergency for monkeypox. The Biden administration in early August responded by creating a response team led by Robert Fenton, a regional administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Dr. Demetre Daskalakis as deputy coordinator.

“Fenton and Deaskalakis will lead the administration’s strategy and operations to combat the current monkeypox epidemic, including a fair increase in the availability of evidence, vaccinations and treatments, “the White House said in a statement.

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However, other states have not issued any states of emergency despite the increase in cases. Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has criticized the Democratic governors of the three states who have declared emergencies for Monkeypox, arguing that the government is “not scary”.

DeSantis said state leaders would use the viral outbreak to “limit your freedom,” adding, “we’ve seen so much with COVID.”