What is Monkeypox, and am I at risk?

Orthopox, sometimes referred to as Monkeypox, has been identified in several countries since May 13, including the United States. Orthopox is a virus that was first identified in 1958, and is in the same family of viruses as smallpox.

It spreads through direct or indirect contact with infected skin, fluid from the rash and large respiratory droplets. Transmission does not happen easily and typically requires close, prolonged contact. Orthopox is not a sexually transmitted infection, and it can affect anyone.

Orthopox starts with a fever, headache, muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes. One to three days later, a rash appears, often on the face, then spreads to the extremities, including the palms and soles. The rash starts as flat patches, then firm, raised bumps that, over several days, fill with fluid or pus, then scab over and fall off. In the current outbreak, the location of the rash has been atypical, with the rash starting on the genitals or around the anus. Due to this distribution, Orthopox may be confused with a sexually transmitted infection. The illness lasts two to four weeks.

Past cases of Orthopox in the U.S. were identified in 2003, and again in July and November of 2021.

If you believe you’ve been exposed to Orthopox and are showing a rash, contact your medical provider. Treatment is available.  

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