CLEVELAND — As more monkeypox cases are reported worldwide, people here in the United States may be wondering what exactly the disease is and if they’re at risk.
“Monkeypox is a relatively unusual infection but can occasionally be a life-threatening infection that is a zoonosis, that means it’s derived from animals, and is usually found in west and central Africa,” said Steven Gordon, MD, infectious disease specialist for Cleveland Clinic.
Dr. Gordon said the primary mode of transmission with the latest outbreak of monkeypox appears to be happening through sexual contact.
Symptoms often include fever, chills and muscle aches, followed by a rash which can spread to other parts of the body and turn into lesions.
There is no treatment for monkeypox at this time. However, anti-viral drugs can be helpful, as well as the smallpox vaccine. Dr. Gordon said most people usually recover on their own.
He notes while cases have been reported worldwide, Americans don’t need to panic about this becoming a similar issue to COVID-19.
“The highest risk is probably, at this point, those people who had close contact, whether sexual or others, with these cases. The general population in America, I would say, is a relatively lower risk or low risk,” he said. “There can be some risk for person-to-person transmission, but it’s not transmitted like COVID, it’s usually close contact, so I think that’s less.”
Dr. Gordon said if you are concerned you may have come into contact with someone who has monkeypox, you should talk to your doctor right away.