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If This Sounds Like You, You May be at Risk of Monkeypox

These are the most common symptoms.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

This weekend President Biden said that "everybody should be concerned" about monkeypox, a rare disease that has popped up in several countries, including the U.S. and Canada It is good to be aware of this yet another virus to worry about however, there is no need for panic as the person-to-person spread is very different than a predominantly respiratory infection such as influenza or coronavirus. Still, it is important to know the signs and symptoms as it appears these cases are in people who did not travel to these endemic areas. 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.


What is Monkeypox?


Monkeypox is a disease caused by the monkeypox virus. Health experts are investigating several clusters of monkeypox in the United States that have been reported this month. It is a virus common in certain regions of central and west Africa. It is a zoonotic virus transferred from rodents and nonhuman primates to humans. It is similar in presentation to smallpox yet luckily less severe. 


Is It Deadly?

Woman scratching arm indoors

The majority of monkeypox cases are not deadly or dangerous, however in rare cases can be deadly. For most patients, it causes a flu-like illness and a disfiguring rash. 


What are the Symptoms?

Woman lying at bed.

These are the most common symptoms of monkeypox: 

  • Flu-like symptoms — cough, headache, runny nose, and feeling fatigued. 
  • Muscle aches and lymph node swelling, similar to the flu. 
  • "Pox" lesions or small pus-filled blisters are common on the skin and can be quite disfiguring. This rash can be all over the body including genitals, and mucus membranes. 


Who is at Risk?

take off discomfort glasses after long wear and massages nose bridge

The spread occurs from very close human contact which usually involves exchange or contact with bodily fluids or with the pus-filled rash. So for example, the current outbreak is thought to be a sexual transmission since none of these individuals have traveled to endemic areas recently. Coughing can spread too but again with very close contact with respiratory secretions. 


How to Stay Safe?

Woman Washing her hands with soap and water at home bathroom

If you have flu-like symptoms or this rash described above please stay home, isolate yourself,  and call your local health department for further instructions. Other hygiene precautions we have deployed in this pandemic should help too — masking, and hand washing. No need for panic but good to recognize the signs and symptoms. 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.

Dr. Purvi Parikh, MD, is an allergist and immunologist at NYU Langone Health.

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