Anyone can get monkeypox. It is important we do not create stigma during this current outbreak
Transmission of monkeypox can occur with skin-to-skin contact, including sexual contact, but it is not an STI
Since May 13, cases of monkeypox have been reported to The World Health Organization (WHO) from 12 nonendemic countries. The first U.S. case of 2022 was reported last week in Massachusetts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified nine cases of monkeypox across seven U.S. states, officials said Thursday: California, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. “The virus is related to smallpox, but is far less lethal,” says Dr. David Morris, DAP Health Chief Medical Officer
“I believe it is very important that we don’t use the current outbreak to cause stigma toward the LGBTQ communities,” says Dr. Shubha Kerkar, Director of Infectious Diseases at DAP Health. Dr. Kerkar, explains “The reason the current outbreak was first reported in gay and bisexual men is because the diagnosis happened at sexual wellness clinics.” Transmission of monkeypox is neutral to sexual orientation.
“In some cases, monkeypox lesions can look like herpes or syphilis,” explains Dr. Kerkar. “It is important to clarify that monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease. It can spread through skin-to-skin contact, including sexual contact, when someone has an active rash.” Individuals may come in for an evaluation of what they think is an STI. Health care providers have been advised by the California Department of Health to consider monkeypox as a possibility in all health care settings, not just STI clinics.
Monkeypox is known to spread through prolonged close physical contact with someone who has symptoms.
- Rash, bodily fluids (such as pus or blood from skin lesions), and scabs are particularly infectious.
- Respiratory droplets, ulcers, lesions, or sores in the mouth can also be infectious, meaning the virus can spread through saliva.
- Clothing, bedding, towels, or objects like eating utensils/dishes, that have been contaminated with the virus, can infect others.
- People who closely interact with someone who is infectious, including health workers, household members, and sexual partners are at greater risk of infection.
- The virus can also spread from someone who is pregnant to the fetus from the placenta, or from an infected parent to child during or after birth through skin-to-skin contact.
It is unclear whether people who do not have symptoms can spread the disease.
Symptoms include rash, headache, fever, muscle and body aches, swollen lymph nodes, and back pain. The CDC recommends that anyone with a new or unexplained rash get checked by a medical professional.
Monkeypox can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact which includes sexual contact. Prevention includes avoiding physical contact with someone who knows they have monkeypox or who has a rash or skin lesions that may be associated with monkeypox.
All health care providers are advised to be aware of monkeypox symptoms and if symptoms present, test accordingly.
If monkeypox is suspected, diagnostic samples must be collected from the roof or fluid of vesicles, pustules, or dry crusts. Samples are sent to the CDC to confirm a suspected case.
“Most patients will recover in 2 to 4 weeks and will not require treatment,” says Dr. Kerkar. “However, we look to health authorities for guidance and further information on prevention and even treatment in certain situations”
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