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The #1 Best Way to Stay Safe From Monkeypox

Here's how to avoid the trending disease.

Monkeypox is a rare viral disease that in recent weeks has begun to spread around the globe and into the U.S. Health officials are monitoring more than 100 cases in 12 countries, and that number is expected to rise in the coming weeks. So how concerned should you be? This week, virus specialists talked about how contagious monkeypox is, how it spreads, and what you should do to prevent transmission. This is the #1 best way to stay safe from monkeypox, according to health experts. 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.


How Can You Catch Monkeypox?

people shaking hands at office

​​Monkeypox is most often spread through close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have lesions caused by the virus, or through contact with infected items, such as clothing or bedsheets. It can also spread through large respiratory droplets if an infected person has lesions in their mouth or throat. But it's not as easy to catch as COVID—monkeypox requires prolonged face-to-face contact for transmission.

"What we are talking about here is close contact—it's not a situation where if you're passing someone in the grocery store, they're going to be at risk for monkeypox," said Dr. Jennifer McQuiston of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a CDC briefing Monday.


The #1 Best Way To Stay Safe

Four healthcare workers in scrubs walking in corridor

McQuiston said the people most at risk of catching monkeypox are close personal contacts of an infected person, such as family members or health care workers.

"We've seen over the years that often the best way to deal with cases is to keep those who are sick isolated so that they can't spread the virus to close family members and loved ones, and to follow up proactively with those that a patient has contact with so they can watch for symptoms," McQuiston said.

On its website, the CDC recommends that in addition to isolating infected people, those who are contact with someone who has monkeypox should wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and practice good hand hygiene, such as washing with soap and water or using hand sanitizer.


Symptoms of Monkeypox

The symptoms of monkeypox include:

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Exhaustion and muscle aches
  • A rash on the face or body that turn into raised bumps which become blisters

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 treatments. A person with monkeypox can be contagious from one day before they develop a rash to 21 days after symptoms appear. 


Monkeypox Is Not COVID

Portrait of a female doctor.

Health experts say that although the virus spread is concerning, it is unlikely to become a COVID-level problem. The reason: The virus is far less contagious. Virus experts look to a pathogen's R0 value, the average number of people an infected person can be expected to transmit the virus to. The Omicron variant has a R0 value of 8.

But for monkeypox, "Most estimates from earlier outbreaks have had an R0 of less than one. With that, you can have clusters of cases, even outbreaks, but they will eventually die out on their own," Jo Walker, an epidemiologist at Yale School of Public Health, told NPR. "It could spread between humans, but not very efficiently in a way that could sustain itself onward without constantly being reintroduced from animal populations."

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
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