Monkeypox now declared a global health emergency

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As the world continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic which began on March 11, 2020, it seems that another pandemic could be lurking on the horizon. With Monkeypox cases on the rise, a global health emergency was declared by the World Health Organization. With the spread continuing across the United States, cases have been seen in almost every state. Joining us on Arizona Horizon is Executive Director for the Arizona Public Health Association, Will Humble.

What is Monkeypox?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.

Monkeypox was discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research. Despite being named “monkeypox,” the source of the disease remains unknown. However, African rodents and non-human primates (like monkeys) might harbor the virus and infect people.

Signs and symptoms to look out for

With the help of the CDC, here are some signs and symptoms you can look out for.

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • 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 (butthole) 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.

You may experience all or only a few symptoms

  • Sometimes, people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.
  • Most people with monkeypox will get a rash.
  • Some people have developed a rash before (or without) other symptoms.

Monkeypox 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.

Monkeypox 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.

If you have a new or unexplained rash or other symptoms…

  • Avoid close contact, including sex or being intimate with anyone, until you have been checked out by a healthcare provider.
  • If you don’t have a provider or health insurance, visit a public health clinic near you.
  • When you see a healthcare provider, wear a mask, and remind them that this virus is circulating in the area.

If you want to learn more about monkeypox from the CDC, click here.

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