What are the symptoms for monkeypox? When you should get tested?

As the number of cases of monkeypox rises in the United States and public health officials increase testing resources, here are key indicators of symptoms and when you should get tested.

WASHINGTON — The monkeypox outbreak on Saturday earned the highest alert level from the World Health Organization, which now designates it as a public health emergency of international concern.

Although most infections have occurred between men who have sex with men, officials have stressed that everyone is susceptible to the virus. There have been at least two confirmed cases of monkeypox in children, according to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention.

As case numbers rise in the US and public health officials increase testing resources, here are key indicators of symptoms and when you should get tested.

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

Symptoms tend to overlap with those of most viruses. Fever, headache, chills, muscle aches, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes are all symptoms of monkeypox. The real indicator that clearly sets it apart from the rest, according to the CDC, is a pimple-like rash that appears on the face and other parts of the body.

“The symptoms of monkeypox initially resemble the symptoms of a common cold,” said Dr. Payal Kohli, clinical assistant professor at the University of Colorado. “So if you have a fever, fatigue, chills, a rash with or without swollen lymph nodes, you have to be pretty concerned that it could be monkeypox.”

Symptoms can vary from person to person and the rashes can appear at different stages and usually last 2-4 weeks. Some people tend to get rashes first and then symptoms, but others might just get a rash.

The CDC recommends monitoring the temperature twice a day when exposed to someone with monkeypox and being alert for other symptoms. Once symptoms appear, immediate isolation is recommended.

Here’s the full list of symptoms, according to the CDC:

  • Fever
  • headache
  • muscle pain and back pain
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • chills
  • exhaustion
  • Difficulty breathing such as a sore throat, stuffy nose or cough
  • A rash that can look like pimples or blisters and appears on the face, mouth, and other parts of the body such as the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.

How is monkeypox spread?

A cousin of smallpox, monkeypox is typically spread through direct contact with infected skin rashes, scabs, or bodily fluids. However, it can spread after prolonged face-to-face contact or with intimate contact such as kissing, cuddling, or sex.

The blister-like rashes are contagious, especially when they fall off.

Touching clothing or bedding that has previously been touched by someone with monkeypox is another possible form of transmission. The virus can spread as soon as symptoms begin and until the blister-like rashes have completely healed.

Monkeypox also poses a threat to pregnant women because the virus can spread through their placenta.

When should you get tested for monkeypox?

It can be difficult to decipher when or if you need to get tested for monkeypox, especially because the rashes can resemble other skin problems like pimples. Other confusion comes from the rashes that form near the genitals, making them comparable to herpes or other sexually transmitted diseases.

However, if you’ve been exposed to the virus or are developing symptoms, it may be time to get tested.

The test for monkeypox is a polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, similar to those that detect COVID-19. However, there are currently no home tests for monkeypox. Results can take anywhere from 24 hours to three days, but as the duration of the test increases, results are expected to take longer.

“In many communities, it has been a real challenge to find websites that are capable of running high-quality testing with a high level of accuracy, and that have what we would like it to do relatively quickly to actually get into to be able to figure out if you know if you’re ‘positive or negative and inform your contacts and do all the contact tracing,'” Kohli said.

Unlike COVID tests, the monkeypox test requires a swab of the rashes and not your nose, Kohli explained. The rashes have a large concentration of virus particles. So unless you have rashes or are asymptomatic, there is no way to test for the virus yet.

Testing can be challenging because most primary care practices don’t have access to monkeypox testing, Kohli said.

Following the WHO announcement this week, the CDC has expanded access to its monkeypox testing capacity to make it more accessible for people to get tested. According to the CDC, the top five commercial labs in the US are now conducting tests, bringing the total capacity to 80,000 a week.

Monkeypox Vaccine Status

The US had come under fire for its slow response to vaccine distribution. This week, health officials approved nearly 800,000 more doses of monkeypox vaccine.

The two vaccines available are ACAM2000, which requires four shots, and JYNNEO, which requires two shots. Monkeypox is closely related to smallpox, so the vaccine provides protection against both viruses.

The vaccine also provides protection after exposure to monkeypox, which is why health officials recommend that people receive the vaccine within four days of exposure.

Individuals are considered fully vaccinated and protected two weeks after receiving their last dose. It may be a while before more vaccines are available in the US, which may affect wait times and dates to get the vaccine.

“I think we underestimated the scale and spread of this outbreak because we had already manufactured the vaccine. And because we have limited vaccine supplies, we really can’t ramp up vaccinations anywhere near as much as we should,” Kohli said.

https://www.king5.com/article/news/nation-world/how-to-know-when-you-have-monkeypox/507-94a30b0f-1fc3-4bcf-af4a-4db270ed01a7 What are the symptoms for monkeypox? When you should get tested?

Alley Einstein

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