SALT LAKE CITY — With the discovery of monkeypox cases across the U.S., including two probable cases in Utah, many are left with questions about the disease and what to look out for should someone be at risk.
Because monkeypox does not occur naturally in the U.S., cases are very rare in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most cases are found in people who have traveled to areas where the virus is more commonly found, mainly central and western African countries.
A virus related to smallpox, though milder, the CDC reports the first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970. The incubation period for monkeypox is usually between one to two weeks, but can take longer.
Those infected with the disease will usually experience the following symptoms:
- Muscle aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
Monkeypox causes lymph nodes to swell, which differentiates itself from smallpox.
After symptoms are shown, someone infected with monkeypox will develop a rash, which usually begins on the face before spreading to other parts of the body. The rash turns into fluid-filled bumps, or pox, that eventually scab over and fall off.
According to the CDC, monkeypox is transmitted in people when they come into contact with another human, animal or materials that have previously been contaminated. The virus enters through broken skin, the respiratory tract or mucous membranes.
Human-to-human transmission occurs through direct contact with body fluids or lesions, while animal transmission can happen from a bite or scratch.
Ways to prevent monkeypox infection:
- Avoid contact with animals that could harbor the virus (including animals that are sick or that have been found dead in areas where monkeypox occurs).
- Avoid contact with any materials, such as bedding, that has been in contact with a sick animal.
- Isolate infected patients from others who could be at risk for infection.
- Practice good hand hygiene after contact with infected animals or humans.
The CDC reports a case of monkeypox lasts between 2-4 weeks, and there is no known treatment.