Monkeypox: What is it? Health experts answer common questions

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ByCindy Bae via WTVD logo
Friday, June 24, 2022
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Questions remain over Monkeypox after the first case was identified in North Carolina on Thursday.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Questions remain over Monkeypox after the first case was identified in North Carolina on Thursday.

ABC11 asked viewers what questions and concerns they had for experts to answer on Friday.

What is Monkeypox?

"This is a virus that has been spreading, not like COVID, but spreading outside of where it originated," infectious disease expert Dr. David Wohl said.

How does it spread and how is it different from COVID?

"This is much harder to catch than COVID-19," Wohl said. "It doesn't spread through the air as well. This is mostly transmitted by pretty close contact, usually by touching, intimate contact, including sexual contact. Sometimes through droplets, which means you have to be pretty close to someone coughing or sneezing, but this doesn't usually cause a respiratory virus, it causes skin lesions, mostly.

Signs and Symptoms?

"Monkeypox is a rare but potentially serious, viral illness that typically involves flu-like symptoms, swelling of the lymph nodes and a rash that includes bumps that are initially filled with fluid before scabbing over," according to NCDHHS. "Illness could be confused with a sexually transmitted infection like syphilis or herpes, or with varicella zoster virus (chickenpox). Most infections last two to four weeks."

Are there long-term effects?

"I'm not aware of long term complications," Dr. Wohl said.

Why is it called Monkeypox?

"This is not really a monkey-borne virus," Wohl said. "They're just an incidental patient like we are, so it's a misnomer. It should be changed and the WHO's (World Health Organization) looking to change the name."

What's North Carolina's response to the spread?

NCDHHS said they're working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, relevant local health departments and the patient's health care providers to identify and notify individuals who may have been in contact with the patient while they were infectious.

State epidemiologist Dr. Zack Moore said there are vaccines approved for Monkeypox, which can be made available for those if needed.

How to prevent the spread of Monkeypox

Although Moore said most cases resolve on their own, he encourages people to see a doctor to make sure everything's okay.

According to Wohl, although it's important to recognize the virus, he doesn't think this is the kind of infection that will lead to a type of shutdown we saw during the pandemic.

"I don't think that people should say, you know, I'm not going to touch another person at all," Wohl said. "But just be aware if you see something new or different on your skin, especially if you get swollen lymph nodes, those are glands in our groin, under our arm, under our neck, that's often associated with this. You know, then that you should get checked out."