You are not alone if you have noticed headlines about monkey pox, a rare infectious disease in the smallpox virus family. Recently documented cases have left many of us with questions – and a significant amount of misinformation to settle).
First, let’s talk about the basics: Monkey pox is transmitted from animals to humans through direct contact with the blood and body fluids of infected animals, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). However, it can be spread between people through skin-to-skin contact with an infected person, inhalation of inhaled droplets from an infected person (for long periods of time), and contact with materials that are contaminated by an infected person (such as bedding and clothing). ). WHO states.
In addition to the indicative rashes and lesions (usually on the limbs and face), monkey pox symptoms include severe headache, swollen lymph nodes, back pain, muscle aches, and fatigue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And although children are at greater risk for serious illness, most people infected with smallpox recover in two to four weeks, according to the WHO.
So what is the recent cause for concern? Monkey pox is endemic – which means that a disease is persistently present but limited to specific geographical areas. However, cases of smallpox in monkeys have recently occurred in areas where it is uncommon. As of May 21, 2022, the WHO has documented 92 laboratory-confirmed cases of monkey pox and 28 suspected cases in non-endemic countries. As of May 26, the CDC reports that there have been 10 confirmed cases across the country.
While it makes sense to worry about monkey pox, especially in the context of COVID-19, it is equally important to be wary of myths and misinformation. To clarify some of the facts, let’s look at some of these myths and get the real scoop.
1. Monkeypox is a new virus
It is disturbing to hear about new infectious diseases, especially after living through the COVID-19 pandemic or after navigating the HIV risk. However, monkey pox has been monitored, studied and researched for years, says Joseph Osmundson, PhD, molecular biologist, author and clinical assistant professor of biology at New York University.
Monkey pox was first documented in 1958 among research monkeys (hence the name) and In 1970, human cases were discovered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and have been concentrated in Central and West African countries such as Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Gabon, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. There have also been occasional outbreaks in Israel, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States.
There is already a considerable amount of information, which some may find reassuring. For example, according to the WHO, the smallpox vaccine is effective against monkeypox and there are already developed vaccines. In addition, there is an existing antiviral drug.
2. Smallpox is a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
Although it is usually transmitted through close contact with an infected person, monkey pox is not STDs. Sex is just one example of close skin-to-skin contact, says Dr. Osmundson. Holding hands, touching, hugging or kissing are other ways of spreading. It is also possible for the disease to be transmitted through body fluids or contaminated sheets and clothes, says the WHO.
Another reason monkey pox has been linked to STDs is because the symptoms of monkey pox can occur in the genitals. As a result, the CDC is urging STDs across the country to pay attention to their patient’s symptoms and to watch out for cases of monkey pox. However, the virus is not considered STDs.
3. Monkey pox only affects gay and bisexual men
The documented cases we have seen have spread through international travel, two documented raveand other conditions involving close skin-to-skin contact (such as sex). But remember, Monkey pox is not STDs and Dr. Osmundson says anyone could possibly get it.
It so happens that the cases recorded so far have disproportionately affected specific communities such as men who have sex with men. However, this is relevant and does not mean that it is a community-specific infection, he says David C. Harveyexecutive director of the National Coalition of Directors SMN.
4. Monkeypox is the next COVID-19
Yes, aphids are worrisome, but they are very different from COVID-19 in many ways. First, it is not a respiratory disease: It is transmitted through close contact with infected individuals or particles, according to the WHO. While it can be transmitted by inhalation respiratory droplets from an infected person, is not a disease affecting the respiratory system like COVID-19.
Because the virus belongs to the smallpox family, the smallpox vaccine (given to most adults in the United States born before 1970) is somewhat effective against smallpox. If you are wondering if you have been vaccinated for smallpox, you can ask about the status of your vaccination at a provider.
5. Monkey pox only affects humans in African countries
Many people on Twitter have pointed out that news agencies that cover monkey pox use pictures of people of color — especially blacks with cases of monkey pox. Although this was a predominant visual tendency, anyone regardless of race and skin color can be infected with the virus if they come in contact with an infected person.
It is true that the disease is more common in Central and West African countries, but this does not mean that it only affects people from these countries.
6. It is ridiculous to worry about monkey pox
This virus does not have the characteristics of COVID-19. However, some people have noticed rejectionist reactions that reflect the way some once talked about COVID-19. The truth is that it does not matter to worry about these cases and their resurgence.
Reporting on cases, the nature of the spread, and the communities it affects is the best way to protect yourself — without feeling overwhelmed by an insurmountable crisis.
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