On August 4, 2022, the Biden Administration declared a federal public health emergency as a response to the rising number of monkeypox cases. On Friday, August 5, 2022, Dallas County declared a county-wide state of emergency. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins states, “This declaration is not a cause for panic. This is a declaration that we will use to try to open more doors to get vaccines faster. Because we know ultimately vaccination is what we need to get monkeypox under control.”
The good news: Monkeypox is not easily transmitted. It is most often transmitted through close, sustained physical contact with someone who has monkeypox. The majority of people who get monkeypox have mild symptoms and do not become at-risk.
How Monkeypox Spreads
The most common way monkeypox spreads is through direct or indirect contact with the body fluids or lesion materials of an infected person. It can also spread through contact with items that are likely to carry infection, such as clothes, utensils, or furniture. It is also possible for monkeypox to spread through exposure to respiratory secretions through prolonged, face-to-face contact, although this is uncommon at this time.
Here are some examples of high-risk exposure:
- Shared towels and bedding
- Skin-to-skin contact with someone who has monkeypox
- Being inside an infected person’s room, or within six feet of them, during any procedures that may create aerosols from oral secretions, skin lesions, or bring one into contact with wet or dried material that has left the infected person’s body.
The main symptom of monkeypox is a rash consisting of pimple-like lesions. The rash most often appears after fever, swelling of the lymph nodes, or other flu-like symptoms. The rash may be on the face, arms, legs, genital, or perianal areas. Patients are infectious once symptoms begin and remain infectious until the rash has scabbed over, the scabs have fallen off, and a new layer of skin has formed.
The CDC reports that over 99% of those infected with the West African strain of monkeypox, which is the variety responsible for this outbreak, survive the disease. However, people with weakened immune systems, children under 8, people with a history of eczema, and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding may be more likely to become ill and die (https://www.cdc.gov
). If you are on this list or if you are in close contact with someone on this list, be mindful of your health. If you start to present the symptoms associated with monkeypox, don’t wait to reach out to an independent provider.
Vaccination and Testing
Who is eligible for the vaccine?
- People who have had close contact (skin-to-skin) with someone who has tested positive for monkeypox.
- Men over 18 who have had multiple or anonymous sex partners in the past 14 days.
Where can I get tested? When should I get tested?
If you suspect that you have monkeypox, call your primary care provider to ask for recommendations. You can set up an appointment with them to confirm your symptoms, or they may refer you to clinics designated as testing facilities. Avoid visiting the Emergency Department for testing only, as this can increase the risk of spreading the infection to others.
At this time, providers are still learning about monkeypox. Although the healthcare community has more information about monkeypox than it had about COVID-19 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there may still be many features of monkeypox that are unknown. If you suspect you have monkeypox, consult your primary care provider right away.
To access the CDC FAQ page about monkeypox, click here