Questions and answers about monkeypox and its vaccine

Jul 27, 2022, 12:50 PM | Updated: Aug 2, 2022, 10:22 am
In this Centers for Disease Control and Prevention handout graphic, symptoms of one of the first known cases of the monkeypox virus are shown on a patient?s hand. (CDC/Getty Images)
(CDC/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — Now that the World Health Organization has declared monkeypox a global health emergency, rather than being afraid of a virus we don’t understand, let’s get some answers a few basic questions.

The first monkeypox question we asked was “is the virus like chickenpox.”

“It is somewhat related in the sense that it’s a viral infection,” Dr. Simone Wildes, an infectious diseases expert with South Shore Health in Weymouth, Massachusetts told Utah’s Morning News on KSL Newsradio.

WHO declares monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern

“But the presentation is a little different. The rash that you get from chickenpox is different. The rash with chickenpox is more like a blister, whereas with monkeypox, it’s hard pus pockets that can be very, very painful.”

Does monkeypox come from monkeys?

Dr. Wildes says “no.” “It’s really a misnomer to say ‘monkeypox’ because people think it comes from monkeys. What initially happened is when they did the research study, it was done in colonies of monkeys, so they said ‘monkeypox’.”

She said that what they’re finding now is that the virus lives in rodents and similar animals.

Question: who is getting monkeypox?

Monkeypox has been in Africa for decades, but it’s only been in the United States since 2021.  Another monkeypox question we asked was, who is getting monkeypox in the U.S.?

“Based on the data that we have from the CDC, the group that is seeing the most cases is gay and bisexual men,” Dr. Wildes said. “That doesn’t mean that other people can’t get monkeypox or spread monkeypox.”

She was quick to add, “We don’t want to stigmatize this group. We have seen that happen in the past with HIV. I just want people to know, anyone can get monkeypox and anyone can spread it. We’re just seeing a lot of cases right now in that particular group.”

How does monkeypox spread? It’s spread whenever you come into contact with infected body fluid. You can spread it directly or if you share towels or sheets. It can also be spread through respiratory droplets.

Who should be vaccinated for monkeypox?

As soon as you’re aware that you’ve come into contact with someone with monkeypox, you should call your doctor and get vaccinated. Dr. Wildes explained that “the general public would not need to run to get the monkeypox vaccine right now.”

Question: can you die from monkeypox?

How serious is monkeypox? Dr. Wildes told KSL, the rash can be very painful. The symptoms usually last between 2-4 weeks. However, the disease is usually not fatal, with a 3-6% fatality rate. “There have been some cases of death in people who are immunocompromised and children less than 8 years old outside the U.S.,” Dr. Wildes explained. All in all, nowhere near as serious as Covid-19.


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Questions and answers about monkeypox and its vaccine