Monkeypox: An Overview and Resources
The CDC is tracking an increase in the number of monkeypox cases in several countries that do not normally report monkeypox, and is urging healthcare providers to be alert for patients who have the rash and illness associated with monkeypox. Based on this recent development we are providing the most up-to-date information we have to our communities in the healthcare setting.
Please note this is an evolving situation. We will do our best to update as new information comes in but checking with the appropriate authorities is best practice with any developing situation.
What is MonkeyPox
Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that is associated with the monkeypox virus. The virus was first discovered in 1958, when researchers discovered the disease in colonies of monkeys that were being kept for research. Infections associated with the current virus are rarely fatal, and over 99% of people who develop this disease are likely to survive.
Signs and symptoms of MonkeyPox
The presenting signs and symptoms may include fever, chills, malaise, headache, new lymphadenopathy, and a distinctive rash. The rash associated with monkeypox has vesicles or pustules that are firm or hard, deep seated, and well circumscribed. Sometimes people get a rash first, and then experience the other symptoms, while other people only experience the distinct rash. People may have extreme pain from this rash, and it may develop into permanent scarring.
Symptoms start within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus, and can last about 2-4 weeks. Monkeypox can spread from the time the symptoms start until the rash is healed, the scabs have fallen off and fresh skin has formed over the site of the rash.
Treatment and Prevention
To avoid getting monkeypox, avoid close, skin to skin contact with a person who has a rash that looks like monkeypox. Avoid kissing, hugging, cuddling, or sex with a person with monkeypox. Avoid contact with objects or materials that the person may have used, to prevent transmission. Wash your hands often with soap and water, or an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
If you believe that you have symptoms of monkeypox, avoid all close contact with others and see a healthcare provider right away. Express your concerns that your symptoms may be monkeypox. Isolate until your test results come back, and if your result is positive, remain isolated until the rash is healed, the scabs have fallen off and fresh skin has formed over the site of the rash. If you need to leave isolation, you should cover the rash and wear a well-fitting mask to avoid the spread of the virus.
People who have been exposed to monkeypox may qualify for a vaccination that can help prevent infection. If you have been exposed, contact your healthcare provider or your local health department regarding the availability and eligibility of the vaccine.
There are currently no treatments specifically for monkeypox, but some people may qualify for other antiviral medications that are used to treat other viral diseases like smallpox. A person who has a weakened immune system may get severely ill and therefore may need this type of treatment.
For Healthcare Professionals
If you encounter a patient who has the signs and symptoms listed above, consider monkeypox as a diagnosis and discuss your concerns with the medical team. Follow your facility’s guidance for infection control practices, which may include placing the patient in an isolation room; utilizing personal protective equipment (PPE) like a gown, gloves, eye protection, and a N95; and utilizing hospital grade disinfectant for room cleaning.
The CDC website maintains up to date information for community members and clinicians regarding the current monkeypox outbreak. Below are links that were cited in this article, and are updated by the CDC.
CDC: Information on the 2022 Outbreak
CDC: Monkeypox Signs & Symptoms
CDC: Information for Healthcare Professionals
CDC: Infection Prevention and Control of Monkeypox in Healthcare Settings
If you are a Trusted nurse and have questions about how this may affect your role, please contact your care team.