Skip to content

Health Experts Just Issued This Monkeypox Warning

The disease continues to spread.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Monkeypox continued to spread globally this week; the viral illness, usually confined to Africa, has been reported in 29 countries, including the U.S. The spread of the virus led health experts just issued a warning about monkeypox this week, along with some caveats. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Risk of Monkeypox is "Real"

Young sick woman laying in her bed.

"The risk of monkeypox becoming established in non-endemic countries is real," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, this week. "More than 1,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox have now been reported to WHO from 29 countries that are not endemic for the disease." 

"So far, no deaths have been reported in these countries," said Tedros. "Cases have been reported mainly, but not only, among men who have sex with men. Some countries are now beginning to report cases of apparent community transmission, including some cases in women."

In the U.S., more than 30 cases of monkeypox have been reported nationwide.


Mass Vaccination Not Recommended

Person refuses nurse injection or vaccination.

There are vaccines for monkeypox: The smallpox vaccine is considered 85 percent effective, and a monkeypox-specific vaccine exists. Experts believe that older people who were vaccinated against smallpox decades ago (a routine practice that ended in 1972) may still have robust antibodies against the virus. 

But the WHO chief said the agency was not recommending mass vaccination against monkeypox. Instead, he suggested that vaccines be used to protect people who may have been exposed, such as healthcare workers, and for post-exposure vaccination—close contacts of infected people should seek it out within four days of exposure.


What Is Monkeypox?

Swollen Lymph Nodes

Monkeypox is a zoonotic (meaning it jumps from animals to humans) virus endemic to several countries in Africa. 

According to the CDC, the symptoms of monkeypox include fever, swollen lymph nodes, headache, fatigue and body aches, followed by a rash that turns into raised bumps and blisters.

Monkeypox spreads through close contact with an infected person, or prolonged contact with items that may contain the virus, such as bedsheets. People with monkeypox are considered most infectious while they have a rash. The incubation period can be seven to 14 days, the CDC says. The disease can last two to four weeks, and most people recover without treatment. A person with monkeypox can be contagious from one day before they develop a rash to 21 days after symptoms appear.


"Not Something to Panic About"

Young woman sitting alone on her sofa at home and coughing.

While warning Americans to be aware of monkeypox symptoms, experts have repeatedly said that monkeypox is not another COVID and that most people are at very low risk of contracting the virus.

"For most people, this is not something to panic about or even be alarmed about," said infectious-disease reporter Apoorva Mandavilli in the New York Times. "It's something to be aware of so that if you do have symptoms, you immediately seek medical care. You should also know about it if you are around someone who might be infected with monkeypox, or if you're traveling to countries where monkeypox is known to be circulating. Overall, I'd say inform yourself and be cautious — but don't panic."

And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael
Filed Under