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Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. The monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as the variola virus, which causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms but milder, and Monkeypox is rarely fatal. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.
Infections with the monkeypox virus identified in this outbreak are rarely fatal. Over 99% of people who get this form of the disease are likely to survive. However, people with weakened immune systems, children under eight years of age, people with a history of eczema, and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding may be more likely to get seriously ill or die. Contact your primary care physician or provider if you are experiencing symptoms or have a rash.
Anyone in close contact with a person with monkeypox is at risk and should take steps to protect themselves. People who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others.
Current cases are primarily spreading through sex and other intimate contact among social networks of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM); transgender people; gender-nonconforming people; and nonbinary people. People in these social circles who have multiple or anonymous sex partners are also at a high risk of exposure.
Monkeypox is not considered a sexually transmitted disease, but it is often transmitted through close, sustained physical contact, which can include sexual contact. Anyone, regardless of their sexual orientation can get and spread monkeypox.
Symptoms of Monkeypox can include: fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion, respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough) and a pimple-like rash that may be located on or near the genitals or anus 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. Sometimes, people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.
Monkeypox symptoms usually start within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus. If someone has flu-like symptoms, they will usually develop a rash 1-4 days later.
Monkeypox spreads in different ways. The virus can spread from person-to-person through direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids. It also can be spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex. In addition, pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta.
Monkeypox is transmitted to humans through close contact with an infected person or animal, or with close contact with materials contaminated by the virus.
Touching items that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids, including clothing, towels, or bedding is another way monkeypox spreads. It’s also possible for people to get monkeypox from infected animals, either by being scratched or bitten by the animal or by eating meat or using products from an infected animal.
Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) is directing the distribution of all JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine in Tennessee. The vaccine is distributed to regional and county health departments only on an as-needed basis and currently can only be given to the following:
1. Individuals with a known contact/exposure to monkeypox identified through public health interviews during the prior 14 days
2. Individuals who might have been exposed to monkeypox in the past 14 days, including if they:
3. Gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men (MSM), and/or transgender, gender-nonconforming or gender non-binary individuals who report any of the following in the last 90 days:
Shelby County Health Department has received a limited supply of Jynneos vaccine to those who meet the criteria listed above. Currently, Shelby County Health Department is the only provider of the vaccine.
There are no treatments specifically for monkeypox virus infections. However, because of genetic similarities in the viruses, antiviral drugs and vaccines used to protect against smallpox may be used to prevent and treat monkeypox infections. TPOXX is an antiviral drug that may be recommended for people who are more likely to get severely ill. JYNNEOSTM is a vaccine, which has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the prevention of monkeypox. Most people with monkeypox recover fully within 2 to 4 weeks without the need for medical treatment. If you have symptoms of monkeypox, you should talk to your healthcare provider
If you have signs of a severe allergic reaction (such as hives, swelling of the face or throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, or dizziness), call 911 immediately or go to the nearest hospital. For other concerns, contact a health care provider.
Adverse reactions should also be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Your health care provider will usually file this report. Visit: https://vaers.hhs.gov/ or call 800-822-7967. VAERS is only for reporting reactions, and VAERS staff members do not give medical advice.
If you think that you need to be tested for monkeypox, you should talk with your doctor, nurse or medical provider about your symptoms. All primary care physicians and other medical providers should be able to evaluate patients for suspected monkeypox and collect a specimen for testing if indicated. A direct swab of a suspected monkeypox lesion is the only reliable way to test for the disease. That means if you don’t have a rash/lesions, you cannot be tested.
Talk to your health care provider if you think you have been exposed to monkeypox or are at high risk for exposure.