TYLER, Texas (KETK) — The U.S. declared monkeypox a public health emergency on Thursday, following an outbreak of the virus in several states. There are many different sets of information going around online, but what is true? What should you know about monkeypox?

Monkeypox is not a new virus

The virus was discovered in 1958 when there were two outbreaks of a “pox-like” disease in groups of monkeys kept for research, the CDC said. The first human case of monkeypox was found in 1970. It was originally found in several central and western African countries and before 2022, most cases outside of Africa were linked to international travel or through imported animals on several continents.

Monkeypox is a “rare disease” caused by infection with the monkeypox virus, according to the CDC. It is a part of the same family that causes smallpox, but it is milder and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Experts say monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.

Despite its name, the source of the disease remains unknown, the CDC says.

Monkeypox is not only spread through intimate contact

Experts said a person with monkeypox can spread it to other people from the time symptoms start until the rash is fully healed and a fresh layer of skin is formed. The illness can last 2-4 weeks, according to the CDC.

Monkeypox can be spread in a few ways, and the CDC says it spreads via close contact and intimate contact:

Close Contact

  • Direct contact with monkeypox rash, scabs or body fluids from an infected person
  • Touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox
  • Contact with respiratory secretions

Intimate Contact

  • Oral, anal, and vaginal sex or touching the genitals of a person with monkeypox
  • Hugging, massage, and kissing
  • Prolonged face-to-face contact
  • Touching fabrics and objects during sex that were used by a person with monkeypox and that have not been disinfected

A pregnant person can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta, experts say.

Animals

People can get monkeypox by being scratched or bitten by an infected animal or preparing or eating meat or using products from an infected animal.

A rash is not the only symptom

Some people may get a rash first that could be followed by other symptoms, some may only experience a rash, the CDC says. Most people with monkeypox will experience a rash.

Signs and symptoms of monkeypox include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
  • A rash that may be located on or near the genitals but could also be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth.
    • The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing.
    • The rash can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy.

Symptoms usually start within three weeks of exposure to the virus, but those with flu-like symptoms will usually develop a rash 1-4 days later.

You can protect yourself

The CDC recommends avoiding close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox as well as avoiding contact with objects or materials that an infected person has used.

“Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after you use the bathroom,” the CDC recommended.

For people who have been exposed to monkeypox or who are more likely to get the virus, the CDC recommends vaccination.

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