Right when we thought the pandemic was over, a new outbreak has been all the talk. The good news? The existing outbreak is still small with under 100 cases across US and Europe. Despite this, the news has gotten the attention of health officials as these circumstances are strange and unusual.
On May 14, 2022, the United Kingdom confirmed 56 cases. Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Adviser, stated, "Because the virus spreads through close contact, we are urging everyone to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service if they have any symptoms."
What is monkeypox? What are common symptoms?
First discovered in 1958, monkeypox is a pox-like disease (similar to smallpox) that was first found in monkeys and later on humans. Initial symptoms of monkeypox include swollen lymph nodes on body, fever, headaches, chills, backache, and exhaustion. Incubation periods can vary drastically from a few days to 20 days.
After the first few days, infected folks often develop a rash that spreads throughout the body. The nodes can end up leaving scabs and lesions. The entire illness typically lasts for several weeks.
How does monkeypox spread?
Luckily, monkeypox doesn't spread super easily. Common ways of transmission require very close contact, such as sharing a bed or through clothes.
How has monkeypox spread?
Dr. David Heymann, the former head of WHO’s emergencies department, reported that a good number of cases in Europe were the result of rave parties held in Belgium and Spain. Many of these cases so far were discovered among gay and bisexual men who had sex with other men. That said, the illness itself can be contracted by anyone, regardless of sexual orientation.
The nature of how this disease is spreading has officials worried as monkeypox is more typically found in Africa and has spread through wild rodents versus sex.
As always, if you think you have any of the symptoms above, please be sure to consult a medical professional.