Monkeypox, a viral zoonotic disease showing signs of outbreak around the world, is spread from animals to people as well as people to people.
Generally speaking, monkeypox is not considered to be an extremely contagious disease. It typically requires a significant amount of close contact with an infected carrier to put someone at risk, a risk further decreased with previous monkeypox vaccinations. The close contact needed to become infected with monkeypox is physical, meaning skin to skin or contact with an infected object. Objects can become infected with close contact with an infected being (used sheets or clothing are good examples of this). Humans are at risk from receiving the disease from prolonged interactions with an infected animal, and can risk passing it to another human with the same contact. In an area where monkeypox is endemic, ensuring that any meat you consume is thoroughly cooked will lower the animal to human transmission risk.
People are at risk of spreading monkeypox while symptomatic. These symptoms can include but are not limited to: fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, and a body rash. One can expect the body rash to appear soon after the fever. Covering up any active scabs, body ulcers, or unhealed wounds when seeing others is essential to reducing the spread, as those areas of your body are the most infectious during that time. Ensuring you do not have any skin to skin contact with an infected person or their used objects will significantly reduce your risk of also becoming infected. Washing your hands and arms regularly and wearing gloves can further but barriers in place between you and the virus.
Despite current circulating messages pointing to certain populations being more at risk of spreading and being infected, it is important to note that people are equally at risk with any exposure. Younger children and newborns are thought to be the most at risk for severe symptoms, as well as any immunocompromised person or unvaccinated person.
As of May 2022, over 10 countries where the disease is not commonly found have reported cases in their population. There is ongoing investigation regarding where the cases originated from. At this time, educating populations about the risks of monkeypox and raising awareness on reducing spread is essential to keeping the outbreaks to a minimum. Keep yourself updated about any new cases in your region or local area to keep yourself protected.
Photo by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/chimpanzee-sitting-on-gray-stone-in-closeup-photography-during-daytime-33787/