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On June 2, the Department of Health announced the discovery of the first case of monkeypox in Philadelphia. Since then, new cases have continued to be discovered across the country. As of June 16, cases have been detected in 20 US states and Washington, DC.

How worried should I be?

The Department of Health considers that the risk of monkeypox infection for Philadelphians is extremely low. It’s not like COVID-19 or the flu, meaning it doesn’t spread as quickly. And for people who may be at risk, they can reduce the risk by taking precautions.

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a viral disease commonly found in Central and West Africa. Monkeypox was first discovered in laboratory monkeys in 1958. In 1970, monkeypox was first detected in humans. Monkeypox can be fatal, but this is very rare and has never happened in the United States.

Why do they call it monkeypox?

It is called monkeypox because that is where the disease was first discovered. You may be surprised to learn that cows get cowpox.

The World Health Organization is working on changing the name of the disease to make it less stigmatizing. The Department of Health will begin using the name as soon as it is announced.

What does monkeypox look like?

Monkeypox doesn’t always start with the rash you saw in the pictures. Symptoms usually appear a week or two after contact with a person with monkeypox. Sometimes it starts with symptoms that can feel like the flu: fever, swollen lymph nodes, and just not feeling well.

A rash and lesions or bumps appear within a few weeks. The rash may be just a few bumps, but it can be seen anywhere on the body, including on the face, in the mouth, or on or around the genitals or anus. These lesions and rash can last from two to four weeks.

How does it spread?

Monkeypox is transmitted by close personal contact with a monkeypox patient or by touching objects, tissues, or surfaces that have been used by a monkeypox patient.

A person can infect others with monkeypox as soon as they have a fever or feel unwell. They can pass it on to someone else while it has a rash, until the lesions scab and fall off and new skin grows back. This may take up to a month.

How can I protect myself?

The best way to avoid getting monkeypox is to avoid close contact with people who might get it. There is no problem asking a partner if they have a rash or damage. If you know someone who has it, don’t touch the things they have touched. Wash your hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer more often.

The CDC is working with local and state health departments to provide the vaccine to people who have been in contact with someone with confirmed monkeypox. This can prevent the development of monkeypox in humans even after they have been exposed. The vaccine is not available to people who have not been exposed.

What should I do if I think I have it or have been exposed?

If you think you have contracted monkeypox, feel unwell, or notice a new rash, you should call your healthcare provider as soon as possible. If you do not have a health care provider, you can visit https://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov find a public clinic or visit the emergency room.

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