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Monkeypox fact sheet-As of 5/24/2022

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare but potentially serious viral illness that typically begins with flu-like illness and swelling of the lymph nodes and progresses to a rash on the face and body. It is most commonly seen and endemic to countries in Western and Central Africa; Monkeypox does not occur naturally in the United States and cases have historically been associated with international travel or importing
animals from these areas. 

Since early May 2022, multiple clusters of monkeypox cases have been identified in countries that 
do not normally report monkeypox, including in Europe and North America. As of 5/21/22, the World Health Organization had received reports of 92 confirmed cases and 28 suspected cases of monkeypox 
around the world. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are investigating a confirmed case of monkeypox in Massachusetts, in which a US resident tested positive for monkeypox on May 18 after returning to the US from Canada. 
Available information suggests that cases in the current global outbreak appear to be spreading through close physical contact among individuals within sexual networks and has currently been observed among men who have sex with men.

How is monkeypox spread?

Transmission of monkeypox virus occurs when a person comes into contact with the virus from an animal, human, or materials contaminated with the virus. The virus enters the body through broken skin (even if not visible), respiratory tract, or the mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth).  A person is considered infectious from the onset of symptoms and is presumed to remain infectious 
until lesions have crusted, those crusts have separated, and a fresh layer of healthy skin has formed underneath.

Animal-to-human transmission can occur by bite or scratch, bush meat preparation, direct contact with body fluids or lesion material, or indirect contact with lesion material, such as through contaminated bedding.  

Human-to-human transmission can occur most commonly through close physical contact, including through direct contact with body fluids or monkeypox sores through broken skin, and close contact via sexual activity. It can also be spread through indirect contact with materials that are contaminated with sores or infected body fluid, such as through contaminated clothing or linens and 
through prolonged face to face contact via large respiratory droplets.

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

In humans, the signs and symptoms are similar to smallpox, but are usually much milder. Typically, 12 days after exposure the illness begins with fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, a general feeling of discomfort, and exhaustion. Within 1 to 3 days (sometimes longer) after the appearance of fever, the person develops a rash that looks like raised bumps. They often 
first appear on the face but sometimes on other parts of the body. Lesions may first appear in genital or perianal areas and can therefore confused with syphilis, herpes, and sexually transmitted infections. After going through several stages, the bumps get crusty, scab over and fall off. The illness typically lasts for 2 to 4
weeks. In Africa, death has occurred in 1-10% of people with monkeypox.

Is there treatment for monkeypox?

There is no approved treatment specifically for monkeypox; however, smallpox vaccines and antiviral 
treatments can be used to prevent infection among those who have been exposed and help to contain outbreaks.

What is being done to prevent the spread of this disease?

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has worked with Massachuseets General Hospital to identify and notify close contacts of the case diagnosed in Massachusetts, including exposed health care workers. The Boston Public Health Commission is working closely with the Massachusetts Department of Public 
Health, Massachussetts General Hospital, and other partners to support follow-up and monitoring of any exposed Boston residents and to identify necessary action steps and guidance for Boston public and healthcare

What can people do to protect themselves from getting infected?

We are urging the public of the importance of staying home and away from others if they feel sick. Monkeypox cases may at first show flu-like symptoms and progress to skin lesions or a rash that may begin on one site on the body and spread to other parts. Most common symptoms include fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, and rash. The rash can look like vesicles or pustules and be limited 
to genital or perianal areas at first and easily confused with other infections like syphilis, herpes, or with varicella zoster virus. People who may have symptoms of monkeypox including a new rash should contact their healthcare provider for a full evaluation. This includes anyone who 1) traveled to countries where monkeypox cases have been reported 2) reports contact with a person who 
has a similar rash or received a diagnosis of confirmed or suspected monkeypox, or 3) is a man who has had close or intimate in-person contact with other men in the past month, including through an online website, digital application (“app”), or at a bar or party.

We are also reminding individuals to avoid contact with individuals who feel sick and to avoid touching a rash or skin lesions, such as vesicles, pustules, or ulcers, including through sexual or close physical contact.

Finally, we are reminding individuals who work in healthcare settings, such as providers and ancillary staff who may be in contact with patients with monkeypox and contaminated linens or items, to remain vigilant and utilize the necessary personal protective equipment to avoid unprotected exposures, including regular hand hygiene and use of gown, gloves, N95 or higher 
respirator, and eye protection.

For the Spanish version of this Fact Sheet, click here.
Para ver la version en espanol de esta hoja informativa, haga clic aqui.


Boston Public Health Commission
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