This week, the Ohio Department of Health reported what may be the state’s first case of monkeypox. As summer kicks into full swing, and large events return after two years of COVID restrictions, now is a good time to highlight the facts about the virus and how it spreads.
Monkeypox — a disease caused by infection with monkeypox virus — is rare, and the risk to most people is low. The virus is rarely fatal, but symptoms can be painful. People might have permanent scarring from the rash.
“What I want to emphasize strongly is that monkeypox does not spread easily between people, and so the risk to Ohioans generally is very low,” said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, director of the Ohio Department of Health.
Here are some symptoms of monkeypox:
- Rash with blisters on face, hands, feet, eyes, mouth and/or genitals.
- Swollen lymph nodes.
- Muscle aches.
- Low energy.
Monkeypox is spread from person to person by:
- Touching the rash, scabs, or body fluids.
- Touching items that made contact with the rash, scabs, or body fluids.
- Close face-to-face contact with someone who has the virus.
- Kissing, cuddling, or having sex with someone who has the virus.
- Being scratched or bitten by, or eating the meat of, an animal that carries the virus.
- Pregnant people can spread the virus to their baby through the placenta.
Cases of monkeypox have been seen recently among men who have sex with men. It must be noted that monkeypox is not a gay men’s disease. Anyone can get or spread monkeypox, regardless of their sexuality.
If you believe you have symptoms of monkeypox, you should stay home and call your doctor. Monkeypox can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. This can take several weeks.
To learn more about monkeypox, visit these resources online:
- CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/about.html
- World Health Organization advice for men who have sex with men: https://www.who.int/publications/m/item/monkeypox-public-health-advice-for-men-who-have-sex-with-men
- Ohio Department of Health Monkeypox Advisory: https://odh.ohio.gov/media-center/odh-news-releases/odh-news-release-06-13-22
- Cleveland Clinic Monkeypox Homepage: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22371-monkeypox