Monkeypox: It’s not another COVID-19 pandemic – Southgate News Herald

It’s not another COVID pandemic.

That’s the most important thing to know about monkeypox, said Dr. Matthew Sims, medical director of Infectious Disease Research at Beaumont Health.

Sims talked with reporters about monkeypox on Thursday, June 30. The night before, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced the state’s first probable case of monkeypox in an Oakland County patient.

The infected person, who is not a Beaumont patient, is isolating and does not pose a risk to the public, MDHHS said. To protect privacy, MDHHS said it would not release details about the patient.

Preliminary testing at a state health department lab showed a positive result for Orthopoxvirus. MPV, or monkeypox, belongs to the Orthopoxvirus family of viruses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is testing to verify the result.

Monkeypox is a viral illness but it doesn’t spread the same way as COVID-19, Sims said. Most commonly, monkeypox is spread through skin-to-skin contact.

Almost all monkeypox patients have some degree of rash, Sims said. It can look like pimples or blisters that appear on the face, inside the mouth and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals or anus. Monkeypox is contagious when a rash is present and up until scabs have fallen off, according to MDHHS.

There have been 5,115 confirmed cases of monkeypox in 51 countries, including the United States, since the start of the current outbreak. The CDC reports there are 306 confirmed cases in 27 states and Washington, D.C.

Although direct contact with the rash is the primary way that monkeypox is spread, it can also be transmitted through:

  • Respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling or sex
  • Touching items, such as clothing or linens that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluidsPregnant people spreading the virus to their fetus through the placenta.

Anyone can contract and spread monkeypox, but early data from this outbreak suggest that men who have sex with men make up a high number of initial cases.

Sims said monkeypox can be spread through sex, but it is not classified as a sexually transmitted disease because transmission is primarily through close skin-to-skin contact, not through vaginal fluids or semen.

Sims said human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, was initially more common in homosexual men and later spread to heterosexuals. The same may happen with monkeypox, he said.

Do people die from monkeypox?

Sims said there are different strains of monkeypox, and this one appears to be mild, so the risk of death is minimal. Most of the deaths have been in rural parts of Africa, where health care is limited.

MDHHS said infection may begin with flu-like symptoms and swelling of the lymph nodes that progresses to a rash. Other symptoms can include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, chills and exhaustion.

Symptoms generally appear one to two weeks after exposure and infection, and the rash often lasts two to four weeks.

Those experiencing MPV symptoms should contact their health care provider for evaluation.

If MPV is suspected, providers should first consult their local health department or MDHHS to coordinate specimen collection and testing.

There are no treatments specifically for MPV infections. However, MPV and smallpox viruses are genetically similar, which means that antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox may be used to prevent and treat MPV infections.

Antivirals, such as tecovirimat, may be recommended for people who are more likely to get severely ill, like patients with weakened immune systems.

Monkeypox is not a new virus, and this outbreak is not the first in the United States, according to the CDC. In 2003, an outbreak affected 47 people in six states.

Preventing transmission includes:

Avoiding close, skin to skin contact with the monkeypox rash.Not touching the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.Not kissing, hugging, cuddling or having sex with someone with monkeypox.Not sharing eating utensils or cups.Not handling or touching the bedding, towels or clothing of a sick person.Washing your hands often with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after contact with sick people.In central and west Africa, avoiding contact with animals that can spread monkeypox virus, usually rodents and primates. Also, avoid sick or dead animals, as well as bedding or other materials they have touched.

Monkeypox, first identified in a monkey decades ago, is often carried by rodents and is part of the smallpox family. It is not related to chickenpox.

For more information visit CDC.gov/Monkeypox.

Oakland County’s Nurse on Call is available to answer questions Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. at 800-848-5533 or noc@oakgov.com.

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