What is monkeypox and how can you stay safe while it spreads?



CNN

The Biden administration has declared the monkeypox outbreak in the US a public health emergency.

“We are prepared to take our response to the next level to address this virus, and we urge all Americans to take this virus seriously and take responsibility for helping us confront it,” said Xavier Becerra, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. from USA said.

Monkeypox is a poxvirus, related to smallpox and cowpox. It typically causes pimple-like or blister-like lesions and flu-like symptoms, such as a fever, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The lesions are usually concentrated on the arms and legs, but in this outbreak, they appear more frequently in the genital and perianal areas.

“Classically, it presents like many other viral illnesses with what is called a viral prodrome, and symptoms such as fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, and muscle aches are common. Within five days of the onset of the prodrome, patients develop a rash that can resemble pimples or blisters,” said Dr. Jason Zucker, an infectious disease specialist at University of NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia Irving Medical Center.

Monkeypox spreads through close contact, according to the CDC. That includes direct physical contact with lesions, as well as “respiratory secretions” shared through face-to-face interaction and contact with objects that have been contaminated by monkeypox lesions or fluids. The virus can also pass to the fetus through the placenta.

Many of the cases in the outbreak appear to be related to sexual contact, often during intercourse. The CDC says it is investigating whether monkeypox can be spread through semen or vaginal fluids, or if the virus can be spread asymptomatically.

Anyone who has had contact with someone with a monkeypox-like rash, or who has had contact with someone who has a confirmed or probable case of monkeypox, is at high risk of infection.

However, a large number of cases in this outbreak have been in men who have sex with men, including gay and bisexual men, and public health officials are focusing their prevention efforts on this group. The virus is not unique to this community, but the nature of its spread through close contact has had a disproportionate impact.

“The vast majority of those who have been diagnosed to date with human monkeypox virus self-identify as men who have sex with men,” Zucker said.

“This is probably due to shared sexual networks. So what we’re seeing is that they see it first and experience it most of the time. Like other diseases, there’s no reason it shouldn’t spread to other communities through sexual contact or other close contact,” he said.

According to the CDC, people most at risk during this outbreak include people who “had skin-to-skin contact with someone on a social network who experienced monkeypox activity,” including men who have sex with men who meet partners online, through an app or at a social event.

People with conditions that involve a weakened immune system like HIV and eczema, and children younger than 8 years old may also be at higher risk of severe illness if infected, according to the CDC.

If you notice a new rash or other symptoms of monkeypox, avoid any close contact with other people until you’ve seen a doctor and been tested.

“When you see a health care provider, wear a mask and remind them that the virus is circulating in the area,” the CDC says.

If you are diagnosed with monkeypox, the agency recommends isolation at home and away from family members until the rash or lesions are gone.

According to the CDC, there is no specific approved treatment for monkeypox. But because it is genetically similar to smallpox, doctors can use similar treatments, such as antiviral drugs.

The CDC is making doses of tecovirimat, an antiviral drug also known as Tpoxx, available for monkeypox patients at risk of severe disease. This may include those whose infection has progressed to the severe stage and people with weakened immune systems. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has also announced a study of Tpoxx as a treatment for monkeypox.

Treatment for monkeypox should also include efforts to control symptoms and complications, according to the World Health Organization.

There are two vaccines available in the US to prevent monkeypox, but not everyone is eligible to receive one.

The US has an “ample supply” of ACAM2000 smallpox vaccine, which can also be used to prevent monkeypox. However, it shouldn’t be used in people with certain health conditions, according to the CDC.

“We have 100 million doses of ACAM2000,” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci said in late June, but its side effects mean that “in my opinion, as a public health person, It wouldn’t be worth managing.” widely among the general population.

Another vaccine, Jynneos, is designed specifically for monkeypox but is in short supply. The federal stock is distributed to the municipalities based on the number of cases and the population at risk in a given area.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, more than 600,000 doses of Jynneos have been distributed from the Strategic National Stockpile and another 150,000 doses are expected to arrive in September. The CDC has estimated that at least 1.5 million people in the US are eligible for monkeypox vaccination.

The federal government has proposed changing the way vaccines are physically administered, which may mean the current supply could be stretched further.

Jynneos is a two-dose vaccine, with a four-week interval between doses. But in light of the shortage, some experts have called for a single-dose regimen until supply improves.

Vaccination against monkeypox can be used for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and outbreak response PEP (PEP++), according to the CDC.

PrEP refers to vaccines that are given to members of high-risk communities, such as laboratory or health care workers, before they can come into contact with the virus.

PEP stands for vaccinating people after a known exposure to prevent disease or help relieve symptoms. For prevention, the CDC recommends that the vaccine be given up to four days after exposure. PEP administered four to 14 days after exposure may result in milder illness.

PEP++ is the CDC’s approach for people with unconfirmed exposure to the virus but with risk factors that may make them more likely to get it.

“When combined with self-isolation and other prevention measures when symptoms first appear, PEP++ can help slow the spread of disease in areas with high numbers of monkeypox cases,” the CDC says.

Demand for the monkeypox vaccine is high, but supply shortages and eligibility restrictions mean it may be hard to find at the moment.

Vaccine eligibility remains somewhat strict.

People who are known and confirmed contacts of people with monkeypox are eligible to be vaccinated. Also eligible are suspected contacts who had a sexual partner in the past 14 days diagnosed with monkeypox, those who had multiple sexual partners in the past 14 days in an area where monkeypox is spreading, and those whose jobs may expose them. to monkeypox, according to the CDC.

If you think you meet one of these criteria and want to know your eligibility, contact your doctor or your local health department.

The CDC recommends avoiding close contact or sharing objects with someone with monkeypox. Frequent hand washing is also recommended.

For social gatherings including parties, raves, clubs, and festivals, the CDC recommends more clothed events, where skin-to-skin contact may be less frequent.

Avoid sex or close physical intimacy if either person has monkeypox. The CDC specifically recommends avoiding touching any rashes that may be on a partner’s body. To help prevent the spread of monkeypox during sexual activity, keeping a distance of 6 feet, not removing clothing during sex, and wearing condoms and/or gloves can reduce the chance of exposure.

“However, condoms alone may not prevent all exposures to monkeypox, since the rash can occur on other parts of the body,” the CDC says.

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