With monkeypox still spreading in the Chicago area and the World Health Organization declaring a global emergency, what symptoms should you watch for if you think you’ve been exposed?
Experts have warned that most people who get monkeypox develop flu-like symptoms before the rash appears, although some may develop a rash that is initially followed by other symptoms, or no other symptoms at all.
Flu-like symptoms may include fever, headache, muscle and back aches, sore throat, cough, swollen lymph nodes, and chills or fatigue.
“Suspected cases may present with early flu-like symptoms and develop into lesions that may begin at one site of the body and spread to other parts,” the Center for Mental Health (CDPH) previously stated.
The virus causes symptoms similar to many diseases, including chickenpox or smallpox, said Dr. Irfan Hafez, an infectious disease specialist at McHenry and Huntley Hospitals in Northwestern Medicine.
He previously said, “It can look, to the average person, like chickenpox or warts.” “But these[sores]tend to be on exposed areas.”
Health experts have also stated that the disease can be confused with a sexually transmitted infection such as syphilis, herpes, or the varicella-zoster virus.
Health officials said symptoms usually begin within three weeks of exposure to the virus, and most infections last between two and four weeks.
“Anyone who develops a new or unexplained rash or a rash that resembles monkeypox should speak with their health care provider, even if they do not believe they have been in contact with someone with monkeypox,” DuPage County health officials said in a statement. . “Avoid close contact (including intimate physical contact) with others until your health care provider has examined you.”
Illinois has reported more than 340 cases in the state so far, and on Monday, DuPage County health officials reported four additional cases.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 16,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported in 74 countries since about May. So far, monkeypox deaths have only been reported in Africa, where a more serious type of virus is spreading, particularly in Nigeria and Congo.
The head of the World Health Organization said Saturday that the spreading disease outbreak is an “exceptional” situation that can be considered a global emergency, a declaration that could spur more investment in treating the previously rare disease and increase the scramble for rare vaccines.
The global emergency is the WHO’s highest level of alert, but the designation does not necessarily mean the disease is transmissible or particularly deadly. Similar statements were made regarding the 2016 Zika virus in Latin America and ongoing efforts to eradicate polio, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
“We have an outbreak that has spread across the world rapidly through new routes of transmission, of which we understand very little,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “I know this was not an easy or straightforward process and that there are divergent views.”
How does the virus spread and how can someone get it?
In Africa, monkeypox is mainly spread to humans by infected wild animals such as rodents in limited outbreaks that usually have not crossed borders. However, in Europe, North America and elsewhere, monkeypox is common among people who have no contact with animals or who have recently traveled to Africa.
The World Health Organization’s chief monkeypox expert, Dr Rosamund Lewis, said this week that 99% of all monkeypox cases outside Africa were in men and that 98% of them were men who had sex with men. Experts believe that monkeypox outbreaks in Europe and North America were spread by delirium sex in Belgium and Spain.
The infection can be passed from person to person through “close physical contact with monkeypox ulcers, items that have been contaminated with fluids or sores (clothing, bedding, etc.), or through respiratory droplets after prolonged, face-to-face contact,” to the Chicago Department for public health.
“I want to stress that monkeypox is not Covid,” said Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Alison Arwady. “We’ve all been paying attention to COVID for a number of years now. You’ll hear more details, but that really requires, based on everything we know now, close and intimate contact in general.”
“Most of the cases where we see this come from more intimate skin contact to skin contact or kissing,” she added.
According to Dr. Sharon Welbull, director of hospital epidemiology and infection control at Cook County Health, the virus doesn’t usually spread just by “clashing with someone.”
“The way it usually seems to happen is there’s a wound that ruptures or breaks open and gets scratched or something one can only see is a crack in the skin,” she said. “It is not. By bumping into someone, being in the same room with someone, sharing a seat with someone.”
She noted that the “general matter requires long communications.”
Experts have warned that there is no current evidence to suggest that the virus is transmitted through the air.
Dr. Amo Hazra, an infectious disease physician with Howard Brown Health, said that while the majority of cases have been in men who have sex with men, “the virus doesn’t care how you identify.”
Health officials said Friday that two children have been diagnosed with monkeypox in the United States. In addition to the two children’s cases, health officials said they are aware of at least eight women among the more than 2,800 US cases reported so far.
Vaccine supplies are very limited in Chicago, with only 5,400 doses available across the city. More than 15,000 doses are expected soon from the federal government, along with another 2,600 from Illinois.
“We are doing everything we can to prioritize vaccination for those most at risk, but the reality is that given the very limited national supply … there are going to be tens of thousands of people who are eligible and will not have access,” said Howard Brown Health CEO and President David Ernesto. Munar.
You are currently eligible for the two-dose vaccine if you have been in close physical contact with a confirmed case or if you are a man who had sex with another man and you did so in a social or sexual setting. In addition, those who got paid for sex or had sex with anonymous partners are eligible.
The CDC has recommended the Jynneos vaccine for men who have reported more than four sexual partners in the past 14 days.
As of last week, the US has distributed 156,000 doses of the Jynneos vaccine to states and has increased testing capacity to 70,000 tests per week. Many cities and states offer doses of the vaccine to people with known or presumed exposure to the virus, including men who have sex with men and transgender people, gender non-conformists or non-binary residents with multiple sexual partners.