By this point most, if not all, have heard of monkeypox. So what, right? What you need to know is that it can affect anyone. Since monkeypox is here, it is best to know more about it to help protect yourself and your family from it. This article will go over what monkeypox is, what it looks like, and what you can do to try to avoid it.
Monkeypox is an infection caused by a virus from the same family as smallpox, although it is less contagious and rarely fatal (MedlinePlus, 2022). It takes 7 to 17 days after exposure to the monkeypox virus for symptoms to show. A person can be exposed by coming in contact with the rash monkeypox causes, including the scabs and fluid from the rash. This can occur when in close physical contact with a person, including intimacy, or even with contaminated clothing and linen. It can even be passed to the fetus if contracted during pregnancy.
Like all viruses, it doesn’t discriminate and will infect anyone if given the opportunity. So, it does not matter your religion, skin color, or even sexuality; if this virus has an opportunity to infect you, it will. Although they sound similar, monkeypox is not related to the chickenpox. Monkeypox is a part of a group of viruses called Orthopoxvirus (Pennsylvania Department of Health, 2022), while chickenpox is a varicella-zoster virus (VZV) that later causes shingles and shouldn’t be treated the same (CDC, 2021).
The initial symptoms of monkeypox are fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, and exhaustion. The rash typically starts on the face but can be on other parts of the body. The rash can even sometimes be found in the mouth. Overall, monkeypox can last 2 to 4 weeks once the rash appears. If you believe you have monkeypox, ask your doctor what you should do next.
Remember, you will need to avoid having company over and avoid others (self-isolation) so not to spread the virus. You should stay home and, if you can, stay in a separate room from family members and pets (Pennsylvania Department of Health, 2022). While it is rarely fatal, there can be complications from the virus, so it is best to try not to spread it. The virus can be spread until all the scabs have fallen off and new skin has formed.
If you do contract monkeypox, in addition to self-isolating, you need to be sure to not pick or pop any of the rash, which can cause complications such as infection of the rash. Such infections can become serious if left unnoticed or untreated (CDC, 2022).
Although monkeypox probably won’t become a pandemic, protecting ourselves from monkeypox (or any infectious disease) is much the same as the things we have done to stay safe from COVID-19. Overall, the best way to avoid monkeypox is for everyone to do their part. If you believe you are sick, then take the time to get better. We live in a world now where if we are ill, we can take the time off to recover.
The workplace environment has changed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and we all should be trying our best to take care of ourselves. All of us doing our part to take better care of ourselves helps to take care of our family and communities as well. Whether it is to help stop spreading COVID-19 or monkeypox, we each can do our part just by taking care of ourselves.
Remember, selfcare isn’t selfish. Spreading illness is.
J. Watters has a B.S. degree in Community Health Education.