The Biden administration has declared the monkeypox outbreak in the US to be a public health emergency.
“We’re prepared to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus, and we urge every American to take this virus seriously and to take responsibility to help us tackle this virus,” US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said.
Monkeypox is a poxvirus, related to smallpox and cowpox. It generally causes pimple- or blister-like lesions and flu-like symptoms such as fever, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The lesions typically concentrate on the arms and legs, but in this outbreak, they’re showing up more frequently on the genital and perianal area.
“Classically, it presents like many other viral illnesses with what’s called a viral prodrome, and symptoms like fevers, chills, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue and muscle aches are common. Within five days of the prodrome starting, patients develop a rash that can look like pimples or blisters,” said Dr. Jason Zucker, an infectious diseases specialist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
How is monkeypox spread?
Monkeypox spreads through close contact, according to the CDC. That includes direct physical contact with lesions as well as “respiratory secretions” shared through face-to-face interaction and touching objects that have been contaminated by monkeypox lesions or fluids. The virus may also pass to a fetus through the placenta.