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What Is Monkeypox and Why is Everyone Talking About It?

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There is a confirmed outbreak of Monkeypox that has affected people in the United Kingdom, Portugal, Spain — and this is the important one to us here in the states — Massachusetts.

The outbreak is rather small at this point, with 37 known cases spread across the 4 countries.

But — and I’m not trying to incite panic here — COVID started small, too.

Usually, when Monkeypox rears its ugly head, the virus can be traced back to one general area.

Not in this case.

— health officials have little clue where people caught the monkeypox virus. And there’s concern the virus may be spreading through the community — undetected — and possibly through a new route of transmission.


The case out of Massachusetts is that of a man who recently traveled to Canada. That’s not even one of the countries which has reported an outbreak of the virus!

What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a nasty little virus. It starts out with flu-like symptoms: fever, body aches, enlarged lymph nodes.

The reason it is called “Monkeypox” is because eventually painful, kinda gross, fluid-filled blisters appear on the face, hands, and feet. These are the “pox.”

Now, one strain of the virus is hella deadly. It carries up to a 10% fatality rate — 10% of the people who get it die.

BUT, this strain that has broken out in 4 countries is a more mild version of the virus. Less than 1% of infected people will die with THIS version of the virus.

According to USA Today, in most of these cases they expect that the virus will last between 2 and 4 weeks.

How Does Monkeypox spread?

In most cases, the virus is spread through contact with animals in West or central Africa, and then spread by person-to-person contact.

[It is spread from] bites or scratches from rodents and small mammals, preparing wild game, or having contact with an infected animal or possibly animal products. 

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health Press Release

You CAN get it from people, but it is pretty rare that this occurs.

The virus does not spread easily between people; transmission can occur through contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores, items that have been contaminated with fluids or sores (clothing, bedding, etc.), or through respiratory droplets following prolonged face-to-face contact.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health Press Release

Monkeypox HAS been in the United States before, so this isn’t an uncommon occurrence.

Back in 2021, both Maryland and Texas reported people with the virus who had recently traveled to Africa.

So, no need to panic. Just be aware, and keep up that social distancing.

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