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Monkeypox in Philadelphia: Get the facts

Alicia Colombo

By Mary Anna Rodabaugh

As of mid-September, there were nearly 23,500 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) has reported approximately 380 positive cases of monkeypox. Only 9% of those cases occurred in adults 50 or older. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Philadelphians are dismayed to hear of an other public health situation. But what exactly is monkeypox, and what can you do to prevent it?

Monkeypox is not a new phenomenon. It is a viral disease that was first discovered in laboratory monkeys in the late 1950s. Monkeypox is usually found in Central and West Africa. The monkeypox outbreak in America has spread nationwide with reports of positive cases in every U.S. state, according to CDC data.

Monkeypox symptoms
Monkeypox causes flu-like symptoms. The severity of illness varies from person to person. Individuals with the virus have reported fever, swollen lymph nodes and fatigue.

Within weeks of exposure, monkeypox will causes a rash or bumps on the skin. Sometimes, the bumps are mild and sparse. In other cases, they can be painful and plentiful. These skin ailments can occur anywhere on the body. The lesions will eventually dry out and go away, but sometimes leave scars.

Monkeypox is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact with an infected individual. Touching a rash, scabs or sores, or coming in contact with bodily fluids of someone with monkeypox can transmit the virus.

According to Philadelphia’s Acute Communicable Disease Program, it is important to stress that everyone is at risk of contracting monkeypox. Close contact, such as kissing, hugging and sex, may also transmit the virus. It can also be contracted by touching surfaces that have also come in contact with active monkeypox rashes or sores. Monkeypox is contagious from the time an individual has a fever until the final bump has scabbed over and is gone. The illness can last two to four weeks.

If you think or know that you were exposed to monkeypox, you should call the Philadelphia Department of Public Health at 215-685-5488 to report the exposure. If you have symptoms of monkeypox, including a rash or lesions, call your doctor immediately. Most people with monkeypox have a mild illness and require no treatment.

There is a monkeypox vaccine, but the supply of vaccine is currently limited. People who are experiencing symptoms of monkeypox or have been diagnosed with monkeypox cannot be vaccinated. Criteria for high-risk exposure includes anyone who had known skin-to-skin contact with someone who has Monkeypox in the past 14 days. To prevent exposure, wash your hands frequently, or use hand sanitizer. Avoid close-quartered social situations where skin-to-skin contact with others is inevitable. Monkeypox is spreading throughout the United States, but the illness has not proven to be fatal thus far. For the latest information and updates on monkeypox and vaccine availability in Philadelphia, call 215-685-5488 or Click Here>>.

Mary Anna Rodabaugh is a writer, editor and writing coach.

Categories: Health Milestones eNews


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