WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- Monkeypox is a disease caused by a virus (germ) and is similar to cowpox, camelpox, and smallpox. It was first seen in laboratory monkeys. Monkeypox is a common animal disease of rodents, such as mice and squirrels, in the Central and West African rainforests. A shipment of infected rare pets, Gambian rats, caused a monkeypox outbreak in the United States in 2003. These rodents infected prairie dogs, which were sold as pets, and later on spread the infection to people. It is a public health problem because the infection spreads very fast.
- Fever is usually the first symptom in a monkeypox infection. This is followed by a blister-like skin rash that gets crusty, scabs over, and falls off. Swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, back of the neck, groin, and armpits is common. Blood tests, electron microscopy of the fluid or rash, skin biopsy, and throat swab cultures may be done. There is no specific treatment for monkeypox. Medicines, such as for fever, pain, and coughing, may be used to decrease the signs and symptoms of monkeypox. A smallpox vaccination (shot) may be given to help your body fight the monkeypox virus. In severe cases, medicine such as immune globulins or antiviral medicines may be used. With treatment, such as medicine and a vaccine, you have a greater chance of a full recovery. Ask your caregiver for more information about monkeypox and the treatment options available.
Take your medicine as directed.
Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:
For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.
Prevent spreading monkeypox to others:
Your caregiver will report your monkeypox illness to the public health department. Stay home and away from people until you can no longer spread the disease. Do the following things until your caregiver says that you can no longer spread the monkeypox to others:
- Tell caregivers that you may have monkeypox before they come in direct contact with you. They need to take steps to protect themselves and their staff from the virus.
- Wash your hands often, especially after eating, touching anything, and after going to the bathroom.
- Avoid being around other family members whenever possible. Limit your movement inside your house. Limit visitors to your house.
- Wear clothing that covers your rash when you must be around other people. This may include long sleeves and long pants.
- Wear a mask when other people are in the room with you. Have your visitors wear masks too. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough.
- Your family members, visitors, and co-workers should pay special attention to how they feel. They could catch the monkeypox virus from you. They should watch for fever or signs of sickness for three weeks after visiting you. If they get a fever or a rash, they should call their caregiver right away.
- Do not go to work, school, or other public areas until your caregiver says it is OK. You may still be able to give monkeypox to others even after you have gotten better. Stay home until your caregiver says you can no longer spread monkeypox virus to others.
Caring for someone who has monkeypox:
- Wash your hands before and after going into the person's room.
- Have the sick person stay in one part of the house. Do not allow visitors or pets in that area if possible.
- Have the sick person wear a mask when other people are in the room.
- Everyone should wear a mask when visiting the sick person.
- Frequently clean all items and surfaces touched by the patient with a household cleanser that kills germs. Use disposable (single-use) gloves while cleaning, washing, or handling beddings, eating utensils, or used tissues. Only use the gloves once and then throw them away. Wash your hands after wearing the gloves.
- Pay close attention to how you feel. See your caregiver if you get a fever, rash, or start feeling sick within three weeks of being exposed to monkeypox.
- Do not share beddings, linens, or eating utensils with the affected patient. These items may be used again after they have been cleaned with hot water and soap.
Monkeypox and your pets:
- Monkeypox is commonly found in prairie dogs, imported rodents, and other rare animals kept as pets. However, any pet may get infected with monkeypox. If you think your pet may have been exposed to monkeypox, call your veterinarian (animal doctor). Your pet may need to be kept away from people and other animals. Keep the animal in a room that is away from the rest of the house. This is to make sure that your pet does not spread the monkeypox virus. Pets that become sick with monkeypox may sometimes need to be killed.
- If your pet has been exposed to the monkeypox virus, do not release it into the wild or give it to an animal shelter. Doing so is very dangerous to other animals and people because it might spread the monkeypox virus.
- It is important to protect yourself. Wear single-use gloves when handling your pet or objects that have come in contact with your pet. Wash your hands with soap and warm water after removing the gloves.
- If you have an animal that you think has died from monkeypox, put it in a sealed plastic bag. Put that bag into a second sealed plastic bag. Wear disposable gloves to do this and wash your hands afterwards. Call your veterinarian or local health department so they can take the animal away. Do not bury the animal or throw it or its belongings in the garbage.
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- Anyone who has spent time near you gets symptoms of monkeypox.
- You have a fever.
- Your skin is itchy or you have a rash that is different from your monkeypox rash.
- Your symptoms do not go away or they get worse.
- You have any questions or concerns about your monkeypox.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:If you show any of these signs, call 911 or 0 (operator) for an ambulance to get to the nearest hospital or clinic. Do not drive yourself!
- You have trouble breathing.
- You have a bad headache, stiff neck, or trouble thinking clearly.
- You become confused, act differently than normal, or it is harder than normal to wake you up.
- You have a convulsion (seizure).
- It is very important to tell caregivers that you may have monkeypox before they come in direct contact with you.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.