Below you’ll find a Q&A. The answers were provided by Kara Thomson-Ryczko, SMDHU public health promoter, health promotion and communications program.
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus. It is part of the same family as smallpox, though typically less severe. It is found mostly in areas of Africa but has been seen in other areas of the world. Monkeypox causes flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills, and a rash develops within a few days. There is no proven treatment for monkeypox, but it usually goes away on its own; however, in the past, death has occurred in up to 10 per cent of cases.
How does it impact a person who has it?
Monkeypox is usually a mild illness, with most people recovering on their own after a few weeks; however, in the past, death has occurred in up to 10 per cent of cases. People typically develop symptoms five to 21 days after being exposed to the monkeypox virus. Symptoms occur in two stages and typically last from two to four weeks.
In stage one, symptoms may include:
- swollen lymph nodes
- muscle pain
- joint pain
- back pain
In stage two of the illness, a rash develops – usually within one to three days (sometimes longer) after the fever starts. The rash often starts on the face or extremities, however it can affect other parts of the body, such as the hands, feet, mouth, and genitals.
The rash can last between 14 and 21 days and changes through different stages before finally forming a scab which later falls off.
How contagious is it?
Monkeypox typically does not spread easily between people. Person-to-person spread may occur through:
- sexual or intimate contact with an infected person;
- contact with clothing or linens (such as bedding or towels) used by an infected person;
- direct contact with monkeypox skin lesions or scabs; or
- respiratory transmission from an individual with monkeypox.
The virus enters the body through broken skin (even if not visible), the respiratory tract, or the mucous membranes (eyes, nose or mouth).
Are you concerned about it making its way to this area?
At this time, the risk of community spread is low. The general public should not be concerned going about doing their routine daily activities.
Is the health unit preparing for its possible arrival, and if so, how?
The health unit is working with health care providers closely to identify potential cases and if we do get a case in our area, we will contact trace to stop the spread.
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