Monkeypox is a disease caused by a virus. It was first found in laboratory monkeys. Monkeypox is a common animal disease of rodents, such as mice and squirrels, in the Central and West African rainforests. The public health department needs to be informed of a monkeypox infection. It is a public health concern because the infection spreads quickly.

How is monkeypox spread to humans?

The virus can enter through a cut in your skin, or through mucus membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth). You can also breathe it in. Any of the following can increase your risk for monkeypox:

  • A bite or scratch from an infected rodent, squirrel, or prairie dog
  • Direct contact with skin sores, blood, or body fluids of an infected person or animal
  • Direct contact with bedding or other items used by an infected person or animal
  • Breathing in air contaminated with the germs after an infected person coughed or sneezed

What are the signs and symptoms of monkeypox?

Fever is usually the first symptom, followed by a rash 2 to 3 days later. The rash is first seen on the middle of the body. The rash later spreads to the arms, legs, and head. Rashes may start as a blister or a raised bump filled with pus. The rash may later get crusty, scab over, and fall off. It is common for lymph nodes to get big and swollen. Lymph nodes in the neck, back of the neck, groin, and armpits may be affected. You may also have any of the following:

  • Chills and sweats
  • Headaches, backaches, or muscle pains
  • Feeling more tired than usual
  • Sore throat or cough
  • Shortness of breath

How is monkeypox diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine you and ask about your symptoms. Tell him if you had any recent animal bites. Tell him if you have recently cared for or visited a person who has monkeypox. You may also need any of the following:

  • Blood tests are used to check for the monkeypox virus.
  • A biopsy is a procedure used to take a sample to be tested. Healthcare providers may collect samples of skin, fluid from the blisters, or crust from the sores. These samples will be tested for the monkeypox virus.
  • A throat swab culture is used to take a sample from your throat to be tested for the virus. A throat culture is done by rubbing a cotton swab on the back of your throat.

How is monkeypox treated?

Medicines may be given to treat symptoms such as fever, pain, or coughing. A smallpox vaccination may be given to help your body fight the monkeypox virus. You may need immune globulins or antiviral medicines if your symptoms are severe.

What can I do to manage my symptoms?

  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, fish, and beans. Healthy foods may help you feel better and have more energy.
  • Rest as needed. You may feel like resting more. Slowly start to do more each day. Rest when you feel it is needed.

What can I do to prevent the spread of monkeypox?

Your healthcare provider will report your monkeypox illness to the public health department. Do the following until your healthcare provider says that you can no longer spread monkeypox to others:

  1. Do not go to work, school, or other public areas until your healthcare provider says it is okay. You may still be able to give monkeypox to others even after you feel better.
  2. Tell healthcare providers that you may have monkeypox before they come in direct contact with you. They need to take steps to protect themselves and their staff from the virus.
  3. Wash your hands often, especially before you eat, and after you touch anything or use the bathroom.
  4. Avoid being around others whenever possible. Limit your movement inside your house. Limit visitors. Wear a mask when other people are in the room with you. Have your visitors wear masks. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough. Wear clothing that covers your rash when you must be around other people. This may include long sleeves and long pants.
  5. Your family members, visitors, and coworkers should pay special attention to how they feel. They should watch for fever or signs of sickness for 3 weeks after visiting you. Anyone who develops a fever or rash should call his healthcare provider right away.

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