Monkeypox: should you worry?

Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 4:40 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - After two years of a global COVID pandemic, reported cases of monkeypox have some wondering whether we have a new illness to worry about.

The answer: not really.

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection which comes primarily from the tropical rainforest areas of central and west Africa, according to the World Health Organization.

It’s the weaker cousin of smallpox, says Dr. Payam Hadian, a primary care doctor at Gouverneur Hospital.

Dr. Hadian says there are currently four cases in New York and none in the north country region.

“Transmissibility being much weaker compared to small pox, these types of outbreaks tend to fizzle out,” he said.

Dr. Hadian says chances of this developing into a pandemic are very slim. Dr. Hadian says transmission can occur only through close contact.

“It’s not something that you could pick up going to the post office or going to the grocery store. And i just want to stress, because we’re coming out of a pandemic and everyone’s guard is up from 2020, that’s okay to go do this activities, and feel free that you won’t catch monkeypox.”

In the unlikely event you have travelled to areas like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, or neighboring countries, and if you think you might have contracted monkeypox, some signs include fever, rash, and swollen lymph nodes.

“It would be very easy for a healthcare provider to identify this type of rash and testing for it,” Dr. Hadian said.

Current smallpox vaccines provide some protection against monkeyupox, according to the World Health Organization. Newer vaccines are being developed to enhance protection against the illness.

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