Monkeypox first arrived in the US on May 18, 2022, when it was detected in a US citizen returning from Canada. The disease has spread at a rapid rate, globally. Early in June, the World Health Organization reported 550 monkeypox cases outside of Africa. America alone accounted for 20 cases filed across 11 different states, both possible and confirmed. To contain its spread, the government sent out 1,200 monkeypox treatment doses to populations at high exposure risk. Before you do anything drastic, here is everything you must know about Monkeypox and the government response.
What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare disease that is of the same family as the variola virus which causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are actually similar to that of smallpox, albeit milder and rarely fatal. Originally, the disease was observed in monkeys and african rodents in 1958. The first cases of human monkeypox infections were traced in 1970 and the virus was largely endemic to the West and Central African regions before the current monkeypox outbreak in 2022.
Symptoms and Protocol
If you expose yourself to the virus, the CDC recommends that you observe yourself for potential symptoms, over a 21 day period. According to the CDC, monkeypox greatly resembles the flu. Patients may experience muscle aches, fever, headache, chills, swollen lymph nodes and exhaustion. Following this, lesions can possibly form on the body which can spread monkeypox with direct contact. If they form in your mouth or throat, it is possible to transmit the disease through respiratory droplets, though this is rarer.
If you develop any of these monkeypox symptoms, you are highly advised to contact your state/local health department and self isolate. You will know that you are fully healed when the lesions disappear and your skin has fully healed.
Previously, monkeypox cases were endemic to the West and Central African regions, and only transmissible between rats and people. It is suspected that monkeypox can now be transmitted through “‘intimate contact and skin-to-skin transmission” and has returned due to globally waning immunities. Once the monkeypox outbreak was first declared “eradicated,” all vaccination efforts ceased. Initially, the CDC believed that the virus is not spreading rapidly and can still be contained. Now, however, clinics are struggling to cope with rising monkeypox numbers and the window to control it “has closed.”
Vaccine variants and side effects
In current monkeypox news, the US is providing two kinds of vaccines: Jynneos and ACAM2000. Though the latter has a respectable 85% efficacy rate, Jynneos is still reliable and seen as the preferred form of monkeypox treatment. This is mainly because of ACAM2000’s unfortunate potential side effects.
Due to the mild strain used as the base of the virus, there is a small chance that it will infect you. ACAM2000 is administered with a two-pronged needle that scratches your upper arm. If left untreated, a virus will infect the area in the form of a blister. You can spread this disease if it touches other people or damage your sight if you touch your eyes after touching your blister. Disinfect the injection side to avoid this. ACAM2000 should also be avoided by pregnant or breastfeeding women as taking the vaccine could cause stillbirth. Patients with skin conditions like eczema or atopic dermatitis are at risk of a devastating full body infection.
Jynneos has none of these side effects, since its strain is irreplaceable in humans. As a result, it is the best currently available form of monkeypox treatment. If you exhibit any monkeypox symptoms or live in an area with an outbreak, Jynneos is what you want.
Vaccine Supply Problems
At the time of writing, the situation is quickly escalating. D.C. reported the largest monkeypox outbreak per capita, with 122. Mass vaccination sites in places like New York are filled to capacity. Federal health officials want to increase available dosage to prepare for a potential case spike in August. An additional 131,000 doses were provided to states, while 7 million ordered doses will not arrive for months. For now, supply is clearly not meeting with demand.
If you live in an area with monkeypox cases, there are a number of measures you must observe to prevent infection:
Do not touch your nose, mouth or eyes
Wash your hands regularly
Avoid physical contact with infected individuals
No kissing, hugging or sharing utensils or cups.