Monkeypox: What Is It and Should You Be Worried?

Two cases of rare, potentially deadly monkeypox have been confirmed in the U.S. and two new cases were reported in the U.K., increasing the number to nine.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), the infected Massachusetts resident had just traveled to Canada and is currently receiving treatment at a hospital. According to the Department of Health, the infection poses no danger to the general public.

It’s the first reported infection in the U.S. so far this year and follows reports of scattered cases in Europe. Radio-Canada reports that Canadian health officials are also investigating 13 possible cases in Montreal.

In the U.K. the Health Security Agency said recent cases were “predominantly in gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men.”

“We are particularly urging men who are gay and bisexual to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service without delay if they have concerns,” the agency said.

What is monkeypox and why should you worry?

What exactly is monkeypox, you ask?

The Monkeypox virus is rare and usually mild. It’s typically contracted from wild infected animals in Africa. It was first discovered in 1958 in monkeys kept for research—hence the name—with the first human case recorded in 1970, according to the CDC. The disease is a relative of smallpox, causing a rash that often begins on the face, according to the UK’s NHS website.

It is possible to catch it.

A bite from an infected monkey can result in the transmission of Monkeypox. You also have to touch its fur, blood and body fluids. It’s thought to be spread by rodents, such as rats, mice, and squirrels. It’s also possible to catch the disease by eating meat from an infected animal that has not been cooked properly.

It’s very unusual to catch monkeypox from a human, because it doesn’t spread easily between people. It is possible for the virus to be spread by touching the skin, towels, and bedding of someone suffering from the rash. It is possible to transmit the disease through touching the skin blisters or scabs of monkeypox, as well as by being too close to people with the virus who have coughed or sneezed.

How can you tell if your child has monkeypox

The first signs and symptoms of monkeypox usually appear in five to 21 days. They include fever, headaches, muscle pains, backache and swelling.

After experiencing symptoms, a rash will usually appear within one to five business days. Because it begins as raised bumps that turn to small, fluid-filled scabs, the rash can sometimes be confused with chickenpox. Within two to four weeks, the symptoms will disappear and the scabs begin to fall off.

Can monkeypox kill you?

According to the World Health Organization, the disease can kill as many people as 10% in areas of central Africa where they have limited access to high-quality health care. Most patients are able to recover in a matter of weeks.

Are there any cures?

Patients will usually need to stay in a specialist hospital so infection doesn’t spread and general symptoms can be treated. There is one vaccine and one specific treatment—SIGA Technologies’ Tecovirimat, a drug usually sold under the brand name Tpoxx—but they are not yet widely available.

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