This spring, another virus competed with the coronavirus for headlines: monkeypox. While experts say monkeypox is not another COVID-19 — the virus is well known and effective vaccines already exist — they are watching its spread with concern. This week, health experts warned that monkeypox is a real danger around the world and that the virus appears to be acting differently than it has in the past. Read on to find out more, and to ensure your own health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
The head of the World Health Organization said this week that monkeypox poses a “real risk” to public health around the world.
The virus, endemic to Africa, has spread this spring to 39 countries, including 32 where it has never been seen before. More than 1,500 cases of infection have been registered in Europe, accounting for 85% of cases in the world. In the US, more than 70 cases have been reported in 19 states.
“The scale of this outbreak is a real danger,” said Dr Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe. “The longer the virus circulates, the more it will spread and the stronger the disease will take hold in non-endemic countries.”
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned this week that the window of opportunity to contain the spread of the virus may be closing. “The risk of monkeypox spreading to non-endemic countries is real,” he said.
Kluge warned that the virus could spread widely during public events this summer and urged event organizers and local leaders to ensure that the virus is communicated. He also urged European countries to step up surveillance, testing and contact tracing of infected people.
Also this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new leadership about the symptoms of monkeypox. Typically, people with monkeypox develop fever, swollen lymph nodes, headaches, and muscle pain, followed by a rash with hard, well-circumscribed lesions that begin on the face or mouth.
But in a few recent cases in the US, patients first developed a rash on mucous membranes (such as the mouth, genitals, or anus). Some have developed lesions scattered throughout the body or located elsewhere than on the face, arms, or legs. In addition, some people with monkeypox report pain in or around the anus and rectum, rectal bleeding, or a feeling of incomplete defecation—symptoms not previously associated with the virus.
The CDC has warned that some people may confuse monkeypox with symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection.
“Now it is clear that an unusual situation has arisen, that is, even the virus is behaving unusually compared to how it behaved in the past,” Tedros said.
Monkeypox is a zoonotic virus, meaning it passes from animals to humans. It is spread by close contact with an infected person or by prolonged contact with items that may contain the virus, such as sheets. People with monkeypox are considered most contagious while they have the rash. The incubation period can last from 7 to 14 days, CDC says. The illness can last two to four weeks, and most people recover without treatment. A person with monkeypox can be contagious from one day before the rash appears to 21 days after the onset of symptoms.
And to protect your life and the lives of others, do not visit any of these places. 35 places you are most likely to get COVID.
Michael Martin is a New York-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also featured on Beachbody and Openfit. He has written for Eat This, Not That! and has also appeared in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview and many other publications. Read more