Open Door Health is closely following cases of monkeypox recently detected in the United States.
Early data suggest that gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men make up a high number of current cases. However, anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk.
We have compiled this list of questions to help you better understand the virus, your risks, and what to do if you suspect infection. For the most up to date information about the monkeypox virus outbreak, visit the CDC’s dedicated webpage, here.
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is caused by a virus that can make you sick including a rash or sores (pox), sometimes with an earlier flu-like illness. The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970. Since then, monkeypox has been reported in people in several other central and western African countries. Prior to the 2022 outbreak, nearly all monkeypox cases in people outside of Africa were linked to international travel to countries where the disease commonly occurs, or through imported animals.
What are the symptoms?
Monkeypox symptoms may include:
- Early flu-like symptoms of monkeypox can include:
- Muscle aches and backache
- Swollen lymph nodes
- A rash or sores, sometimes located on or near the genitals or anus, but sometimes in other areas like the hands, feet, chest, or face. Sores may be inside the body, including the mouth, vagina, or anus
- Some people experience a rash or sores first, followed by other symptoms and some only experience a rash or sores
How does monkeypox spread?
Monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact including:
- Direct contact with monkeypox rash, sores, or scabs
- Contact with objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox
- Through respiratory droplets or oral fluids from a person with monkeypox
This contact can happen during intimate sexual contact including:
- Oral, anal, and vaginal sex or touching the genitals or anus of a person with monkeypox
- Hugging, massage, kissing, or talking closely
- Touching fabrics and objects during sex that were used by a person with monkeypox, such as bedding, towels and sex toys
We know the virus can be spread in fluid or pus from monkeypox sores, and are trying to better understand if virus could be present in semen, vaginal fluids or other body fluids
How long does a case of monkeypox usually last?
The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks. Monkeypox can be spread from the time symptoms start until all sores have healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed.
Symptoms and/or Exposure
What should someone experiencing symptoms of monkeypox do?
Call Open Door Health (at 401-648-4700) or another medical provider immediately if you are experiencing monkeypox symptoms. It is important that you do not show up at a clinic or in the emergency room without calling ahead.
What should someone with an exposure to monkeypox, but no symptoms, do?
If you have had close, physical contact with someone who has tested positive for monkeypox please call Open Door Health or another medical provider immediately. You may be eligible for vaccination which can prevent disease.
Can Open Door Health test for and diagnose monkeypox?
Yes. The staff at Open Door Health are equipped and trained to diagnose and test for monkeypox. Testing is done by swapping the rash/sores.
Can someone who is not an Open Door Health patient call for testing?
Yes. Open Door Health is accepting new patients. Contact our office at 401-648-4700.
What can someone do to prevent exposure to monkeypox?
There are several ways to prevent exposure to monkeypox:
- Avoid close, skin to skin contact with the monkeypox rash.
- Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.
- Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
- Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a sick person.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after contact with sick people.
Is there a vaccine for monkeypox?
Yes. Two vaccines licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are available for preventing monkeypox infection: JYNNEOS (also known as Imvamune or Imvanex) and ACAM2000. In the United States, there is currently a limited supply of JYNNEOS, although more is expected in coming weeks and months. The ACAM2000 is generally not preferred.
No data are available yet on the effectiveness of these vaccines in the current outbreak.
Should I get the monkeypox vaccine?
CDC does not recommend widespread vaccination against monkeypox at this time. However, vaccination may be recommended for some people who:
- Are close personal contacts of people with monkeypox
- May have been exposed to the virus
- May have increased risk of being exposed to the virus, such as people who perform laboratory testing to diagnose monkeypox
What Rhode Island clinics will be receiving vaccines?
At this time, no one is certain. We are in frequent communication with the Rhode Island Department of Health to identify when the state is set to receive a shipment of vaccines.
The supply in the country is low at the moment, but The Department of Health and Human services has announced they will be providing 56,000 doses of the Jynneos vaccine immediately and an additional 240,000 doses in the coming weeks. Another 750,000 doses are expected to become available over the summer, with a total of 1.6 million doses by the end of this year.