What you need to know about monkeypox.
Since May 2022, monkeypox has spread to multiple countries across the globe such that it was declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization on July 23rd. While the number of cases identified in Massachusetts remains low, Sturdy Memorial would like to ensure that our community remains updated regarding the disease and its spread.
Monkeypox is a viral rash illness in the smallpox family endemic to Central and West Africa. It has caused previous outbreaks in the U.S., but none as large as the current outbreak. Nevertheless, monkeypox remains rare and does not spread easily between people. Monkeypox spreads primarily through close and direct physical contact with the rash, scabs, or bodily fluids of infected person, and through touching materials that have been contaminated. It can also spread by respiratory secretions, but requires prolonged, close, face-to-face contact with a symptomatic infected person to do so. It is significantly less infectious than the virus that causes COVID-19 and leads to much less severe disease, and no deaths have been reported in the current monkeypox outbreak to date. The incubation period after exposure is typically 7-14 days but can be up to 21 days. Symptoms include fever, chills, headache, body aches, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, as well as a painful pimple or blister-like rash on the face, inside the mouth, on the extremities (including palms and soles), genitals, anus, and less often the trunk. Most often, the monkeypox rash appears 1-3 days after the onset of fever, but rarely, it can precede other symptoms or occur without them. Monkeypox infection typically lasts 2-4 weeks and persons are considered infectious from the time of symptom onset until the rash has fully healed, scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of skin has formed. Monkeypox is generally a mild, self-limited illness, but immunocompromised persons, pregnant or breastfeeding women, children under 8, and people with a history of eczema, atopic dermatitis, or other exfoliative skin conditions have a higher risk of severe disease.
If you have symptoms concerning for monkeypox or have been in close contact with someone confirmed or suspected to have monkeypox, you should call your healthcare provider to determine if testing is appropriate and if treatment or post-exposure vaccination are indicated.
While it is important to closely monitor the spread of this disease, the overall risk of getting monkeypox in the general public remains very low. As of the date of this publication, there have only been 115 cases of infection reported in Massachusetts. As your preferred community health care provider, Sturdy Memorial is working closely with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, our local officials, community, and health care providers to monitor the situation.
For the most up-to-date information visit the following sites:
Monkeypox | Mass.gov
Monkeypox | Mass.gov | Vaccination information
Monkeypox | Mass.gov | Vaccine eligibility
CDC US Map and Case Count