What Is Monkeypox?

September 11, 2022
Picture of the monkeypox rash on a man's hands.

If you’ve been following the news, you’ve likely heard about the recent outbreak of monkeypox cases in the United States. This disease is caused by the monkeypox virus, which is in the same family of viruses as the one that causes smallpox. In this article, PhysicianOne Urgent Care discusses monkeypox symptoms, transmission, and treatment.

What Are the Symptoms of Monkeypox?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of the hallmark symptoms of monkeypox is a rash, which often develops around the face, mouth, chest, hands, genitals, anus, and feet. In many cases, this rash starts out looking like pimples or blisters (often with dots on top of them), then eventually scabs over. The lesions can be firm or rubbery and may cause pain or itchiness. Notably, while it’s common for monkeypox to produce multiple lesions, some individuals have only one lesion.

Many individuals with monkeypox also experience flu-like symptoms, which can develop either before or after the rash. These may include:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Backache
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Monkeypox symptoms generally begin within three weeks after being exposed to the virus, and typically last approximately two to four weeks.

Is Monkeypox Contagious?

Yes, monkeypox is highly contagious. The CDC has advised that someone can contract monkeypox by:

  • Engaging in skin-to-skin contact with someone who has monkeypox
  • Coming into contact with respiratory secretions from someone with monkeypox
  • Touching objects or surfaces that were used by someone with monkeypox (if they haven’t yet been disinfected)
  • Being scratched or bitten by an animal that has monkeypox
  • Preparing or consuming the meat or products of an animal with monkeypox

If a pregnant woman has monkeypox, she can also spread the disease to her baby through the placenta.

Monkeypox can be spread from the time symptoms begin until the accompanying rash has fully healed (meaning that all resulting scabs have fallen off and a new layer of skin has already formed). Researchers are still trying to determine whether monkeypox can be spread when someone isn’t experiencing any symptoms. If you suspect that you might have monkeypox, you should avoid close contact with other people and pets until a medical provider has confirmed your diagnosis, and also be sure to frequently wash your hands with soap and water.

Can Monkeypox Be Treated?

As of this time, there aren’t any treatments specifically designed to treat monkeypox. However, many medical providers are treating monkeypox with the same antiviral medications used to treat smallpox, since the two viruses are genetically similar.

Monkeypox Testing Near You

If you’re experiencing the symptoms listed above and you’re concerned that you might have monkeypox, you’ll need to get tested to confirm your diagnosis. You may also want to undergo testing if you’ve been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox. Luckily, if you’re in Connecticut, Massachusetts, or New York, you can have this test completed at PhysicianOne Urgent Care. We have numerous walk-in immediate care centers throughout the region, all of which are open seven days per week with extended hours. Stop in today, schedule a 24/7 Virtual Visit, or call us at 860-650-3848 to learn more about monkeypox and what the testing process involves.

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