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What Is Monkeypox? 

in Vaccine Education, Vaccine Preventable Diseases

There is an emerging global outbreak of Monkeypox. This is what we know so far. Note: this article was written May 23, 2022. Information about the Monkeypox case spread is quickly changing. 

What Is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a viral disease that is endemic to Africa. There are two strains: the Congo strain with a mortality rate of 10% and the West African strain with a mortality rate of 1%. The strain that is spreading outside of Africa seems to be the West African strain, but genetic sequencing efforts are underway to confirm this. 

Signs and symptoms of Monkeypox include: fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, severe headache, muscle ache, back pain, malaise, fatigue, rashes, and pox lesions. Monkeypox typically lasts 2-4 weeks.

Monkeypox can be spread in three ways that we know of: 1) respiratory droplets from close contacts, 2) through skin lesions, 3) from surfaces contaminated with the virus. Monkeypox may also be spread through other body fluids, but more research is needed. Symptoms begin to show 5-21 days after infection with the virus. 

The most up-to-date information states that the current outbreaks of Monkeypox are being spread primarily through sex. This doesn’t mean that Monkeypox is a sexually transmitted infection. Close contact of respiratory droplets, skin, and contaminated surfaces like sheets occur during sex. 

How Is Monkeypox Treated?

Monkeypox is a viral disease and is generally treated with supportive care. Supportive care for Monkeypox is the same as supportive care for any other viral condition that affects the skin (eg. chickenpox, measles, and hand, foot, and mouth disease). It involves rest, hydration, fever management, and soothing skin care. Integrative medical care would add antiviral and immune stimulating botanicals and nutrients. 

Possible pharmaceutical treatments of Monkeypox include Cidofovir, Brincidofovir, Tecovirimat (ST-246), and Vaccinia Immune Globulin (VIG). At present we don’t have enough information to assess the efficacy of these treatments.  

If Monkeypox continues to spread and poses a threat to the health of our Dr. Green Mom community, I will post an update with more specific guidelines based on the best available evidence. 

What Can I Do To Protect My Family From Monkeypox?

What is Monkeypox? Clean surfaces - Dr. Green MomTo protect your family from Monkeypox: 1) support good immune health, 2) take extra precautions with surfaces, 3) consider the smallpox vaccine if you live in an area currently experiencing an outbreak. 

Supporting good immune health is one of our areas of expertise here at Dr. Green Mom. Good immune health starts in the gut, so focusing on healing the gut and supplementing with a high quality probiotic should be a priority. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet and getting a full complement of nutrients is essential. Finally, products like Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Zinc,  Mother’s Immunity, and Immunity Boost help to support the immune system and help to prevent viral infections in general and *MAY* help prevent Monkeypox (we simply do not know enough to say for sure if they will offer protection). 

Because Monkeypox can live on surfaces, taking extra precaution with touching public surfaces and taking care to wash your hands thoroughly is a wise idea if there are Monkeypox cases near you. Washing dishes and laundry with warm water and soap is adequate for safety.

The Smallpox vaccine provides protection against Monkeypox. It should be considered if you are in the area of an outbreak. However, some people are at high risk for adverse reactions to the Smallpox vaccine.

Is Monkeypox the Next Global Pandemic?

The question on everyone’s mind is: Is Monkeypox the next Covid? The short answer is that we don’t know. Information is rapidly emerging and global health policy and public response will likely play a role. 

There are some big differences between Monkeypox and Covid-19. The biggest one is infectivity. Covid-19 is much more infectious than Monkeypox and is infectious over greater distances. Monkeypox should be more easily contained meaning that it is less likely to result in uncontrolled spread. The new pattern of Monkeypox cases outside of Africa suggests that something may have changed about how Monkeypox is transmitted. However, early results from genetic sequencing indicate that there are no major changes. We will have to watch and wait as more information develops. 

Summary

Monkeypox is a viral infection that is endemic to Africa but which has recently begun to spread worldwide. New cases are being identified daily and new information is rapidly emerging. At present, we don’t know what the overall risk is. Maintaining good health, supporting the immune system, taking precautions about potentially infected surfaces are all worthwhile preventative strategies to explore while we wait for more information to emerge. 

 

References:

Monkeypox | Poxvirus | CDC

Side Effects of Vaccination – Smallpox

Multi-country monkeypox outbreak in non-endemic countries 

 

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