Monkeypox from the CDC website

The CDC released information that the few monkeypox cases that have been suspected or verified in western Europe and the U.S. have mostly affected gay or bi men.

According to the CDC, Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research, hence the name ‘monkeypox.’

The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo during a period of intensified effort to eliminate smallpox. Since then monkeypox has been reported in humans in other central and western African countries.

The first confirmed case of monkeypox in the U.S. occurred this month in Massachusetts. A second suspected case followed in New York. Several other suspected cases have been found around the country but have not yet been confirmed. All of the cases are related to travel.

Monkeypox is transmitted through close personal contact. Unlike the coronavirus, it is not spread through the air.

Transmission of monkeypox virus occurs when a person comes into contact with the virus from an animal, human or materials contaminated with the virus, according to the CDC website. The virus enters the body through broken skin (even if not visible), respiratory tract, or the mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth).

The symptoms are fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.

“Within 1 to 3 days (sometimes longer) after the appearance of fever, the patient develops a rash, often beginning on the face then spreading to other parts of the body,” according to the CDC website.

And, the CDC warns, “The illness typically lasts for 2−4 weeks. In Africa, monkeypox has been shown to cause death in as many as 1 in 10 persons who contract the disease.”

There is a vaccine to prevent monkeypox that uses an attenuated (weakened or reduced) live virus. The old smallpox vaccine, which they stopped administering in 1972 when the disease was eradicated, is about 85 percent effective in preventing monkeypox.

— David Taffet