What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. This virus is in the same family of the virus that causes smallpox—although smallpox is more extreme. Contrary to popular belief, Monkeypox is not a new virus. It was discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research. The first human case was recorded in 1970.
How it Spreads
The CDC says Monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact, including:
- Direct contact with the rash, scabs, or body fluids from a person with monkeypox.
- Touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.
- Contact with respiratory secretions.
- Muscle aches and backache
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
- A rash that may be located on or near the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus but could also be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth.
- The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing.
- The rash can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy
How Long Does it Last
- Symptoms usually start within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus. If someone has flu-like symptoms, they will usually develop a rash 1-4 days later.
- It can be spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks
The CDC recommends following 3 steps to refrain from contracting the virus:
- Avoid close, skin to skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like Monkeypox
- Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with Monkeypox has used
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after you use the bathroom.
Testing and Treatment
There are no treatments specifically for Monkeypox virus infections. Labcorp currently offers monkeypox testing for those who are experiencing symptoms. Since smallpox is genetically similar, the antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox may be used to prevent and treat monkeypox infections.
Keep an eye out for updates from the CDC as we find out more about the virus.