Monkeypox is a virus in the same family as smallpox. It causes similar symptoms, though monkeypox is usually much less severe. The virus is most common in Central and Western Africa, although outbreaks have now been reported in over 70 countries across all continents except Antarctica.
The monkeypox virus can infect humans by entering through broken skin, the respiratory system, or the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, and mouth. While this means that monkeypox can be transmitted through sexual contact, it is not a sexually transmitted infection. Monkeypox can be transmitted through any form of close contact with a person who has the virus. Monkeypox can also be transmitted through surfaces, such as sharing towels or bedsheets with someone who has the virus.
Symptoms usually begin five to 21 days after exposure. Early symptoms are similar to the flu, including headache, muscle pain, fever, and fatigue. Several days after the onset of a fever, lesions will begin to appear. Lesions begin as small flat spots, then become bumps filled with clear fluid that will turn yellow before bursting and scabbing over. Lesions can be found anywhere on the body, but most often are around the genital, anus, mouth, and face, and can resemble a STI like herpes. Some people who have monkeypox never experience any symptoms.
Lesions typically go away in a few weeks, but if you are infected you may feel unwell for up to a month.
Monkeypox is rarely fatal. Lesions caused by monkeypox frequently leave pale scars that get darker with time. People with monkeypox face an increased risk of acquiring secondary infections, like pneumonia. Lesions in the eyes can lead to infection which damages vision or causes blindness.
No. Anyone, regardless of gender or sexuality, can be infected with monkeypox. Cases of monkeypox in the United States are disproportionately affecting men who have sex with men. It is believed that is due to behavior such as attending crowded bars or dance clubs, where close contact is difficult to avoid. Anyone who believes they have been exposed to monkeypox can acquire the virus and should contact their local health department immediately.
Yes! Vaccines are available now. They are safe and effective. Call 816-753-5144 to schedule an appointment.
First, avoid contact with anyone who has monkeypox or who you believe has recently been exposed to monkeypox. Avoid crowded environments where it is difficult to prevent skin-to-skin contact, such as dance clubs. Avoid touching contaminated surfaces and wash your hands often. Viruses like monkeypox can survive for weeks on materials like towels or bedsheets, so make sure to wash items like this as often as possible. Wearing mask can help prevent you from inhaling respiratory secretions, such as if someone sneezes near you. It is also best to limit the number of people you kiss and have sexual contact with.
If you think you have monkeypox, please call 816.753.5144 to schedule an appointment. We offer monkeypox testing and vaccinations.