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Latest Updates on Monkeypox

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Monkeypox was recently named a Global Health Emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) following a concerning outbreak in several countries, including the United States. The nation now has the most confirmed monkeypox cases of any country, and cases in the Gulf South continue to climb. Below is more information to keep you and your loved ones safe and well.

About Monkeypox

Monkeypox is a rare infection caused by the monkeypox virus (MPV). MPV has similarities to the smallpox virus, although it is less serious, and it’s believed that childhood smallpox vaccination may provide some protection.

Monkeypox is rarely fatal but can cause serious illness and discomfort. The main symptoms of monkeypox are rash or skin legions, which appear in all confirmed cases. Infected people may also experience fever, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and aches. Symptoms can occur 5-21 days after infection.

Monkeypox is spread through prolonged, close contact with an infected person which may include:

  • Respiratory droplets from intimate face-to-face contact, such as kissing
  • Direct contact with a rash or body fluids
  • Contact with items like linens and clothing that were exposed to the rash

Who is at Risk for Monkeypox?

Anyone who has close contact with an infected individual may be at risk, especially people who have multiple sexual partners while contagious.

Pregnant people are at high risk for complications including a higher risk of pregnancy complications and loss, and a risk of transferring the infection to an infant before delivery.

Exposed or Symptomatic?

If you suspect you’ve been exposed to MPV, self-monitor for symptoms, including fever and rash, for 21 days. If you don’t have symptoms, isolation is not needed, but it’s recommended that you do not donate blood until your monitoring period is completed.

If a rash develops following MPV exposure, quarantine and contact your physician or seek medical treatment for testing. Testing is currently only available for symptomatic people with a rash or skin legion. Test results may take up to three weeks and those awaiting results are advised to quarantine until symptoms resolve and/or after receiving a negative test result.

Treatment and Vaccination

There are no treatments specifically for monkeypox, but antiviral drugs used to treat smallpox may be used to treat MPV infections due to the similarities of the viruses. If you have tested positive for monkeypox, ask your doctor about treatment options.

Vaccination is recommended for people who have been in close contact with people who have monkeypox and those who have recently tested positive. Vaccination quantity is extremely limited but will be more readily available soon. Please ask your doctor about vaccination if you believe you are eligible.

People who may be eligible for vaccination include:

  • People who have been identified by public health officials as a contact of someone with MPV
  • People who may have been exposed to MPV, such as:
    • People who are aware that one of their sexual partners in the past 2 weeks has been diagnosed with MPV
    • People who had multiple sexual partners in the past 2 weeks in an area with known monkeypox cases

Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Louisiana Department of Health (LDH):

Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH):

Contact your Ochsner Health Team: