Monkeypox, a human disease transmitted from animals to humans, has recently resurfaced in May 2022 and Millersville University Health Services is on the case.
According to Health Services physician Dr. Weaver, the orthopoxvirus, Monkeypox, is in the same genus of the variola virus, which is the cause of smallpox, and vaccinia viruses, which are used to create vaccines against these diseases. However, since the smallpox vaccination, which was also providing some protection against monkeypox, was discontinued in 1980, the routine protection has been lost.
Monkeypox has been identified in many African countries and is considered endemic. The infection is typically found in rodents like squirrels, dormice, and rats. Regardless of the name, monkeys are not a common host.
There are two recognizable strains called Clade 1 and Clade 2. Clade 1 has a higher mortality rate at almost 11%, while Clade 2 is less than 1%, making death in Clade 2 very unlikely. Fortunately, the recent outbreak in May of this year is similar to Clade 2, so it is much weaker with a very low mortality rate.
“Previous outbreaks of Monkeypox were zoonotic infections, spread by contact with infected animals, such as the pet prairie dog outbreak in 2003 in the United States,” says Dr. Weaver. “The current monkeypox outbreak beginning in May 2022 is spread by human-to-human contact.”
Contact with the virus is a bit more contagious than COVID-19, because it can be spread by having close contact with infectious skin lesions and clothing or materials in direct contact of these lesions. Most cases have been found to have been spread through sexual contact as that is the closest way to contact the skin lesions.
To reduce the risk of getting Monkeypox, it is best to avoid activity that could put you in close contact with those who have rashes or sores. It is also important to limit your number of sexual partners, so exposure is decreased.
Most symptoms show up 7-10 days after exposure, but can also take up to 21 days. These symptoms may include a prodrome of fever, headache, sore throat, body aches, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes and rashes. Rashes are the most common symptom, and typically look like small bumps that turn into blisters or larger bumps, which are contagious. These rashes can be found anywhere on the body.
“The rash can cause pain, especially anorectal pain, or severe sore throat. Infection can also affect the lungs, brain, heart or other parts of the body.” Dr. Weaver adds.
There is High Risk, Intermediate Risk, and Low Risk Exposure. When dealing with High and Intermediate Risk, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis is recommended. Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis is a two-shot vaccination series given 28 days apart.
If experiencing any symptoms of Monkeypox, students can call Millersville University Health Services at 717-871-5250 to get tested. If positive, Health Services can assist you in treatment and help to obtain a Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis.
“If a student tests positive for monkeypox, they should isolate until their rash is in the healing phase, which may take 2 to 4 weeks,” says Dr. Weaver. “During this time they should isolate off campus where they are able to avoid shared living spaces, maintain a separate bathroom, and isolate away from mammalian pets.”
While Monkeypox does not usually require hospitalization, it is important to continuously follow up with a healthcare provider, which can also be found at Health Services to help monitor the healing process.