We’ve been getting calls about Monkeypox, which has been featured quite a lot in the news lately. Here’s what you need to know…
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by a virus similar to the smallpox virus. It’s rarely fatal. As of this writing, there have been about 4,500 cases reported in the US. Only two have been in children, one of whom was here visiting the country from overseas.
How Does it Spread?
Monkeypox is most often spread by sexual contact or other prolonged physical contact. It can also be spread from a pregnant mother to her fetus. Until recently, Monkeypox had been seen mostly in people in central or western Africa, or in people who had traveled to those areas.
What are the Symptoms?
Symptoms can include fever, body aches, respiratory symptoms, and a rash that looks like pimples or blisters.
How Can it Be Prevented?
Avoid close (skin-to-skin) contact with anyone who has monkeypox. Wash your hands frequently. (Sound familiar?)
Is There a Vaccine?
Two vaccines for smallpox can offer protection against monkeypox. Right now, these vaccines are almost exclusively approved for people over 18, and after consultation with the CDC. An investigational use new drug protocol makes it available in very limited quantities to exposed children and adolescents.
Why Did the WHO Declare a Global Health Emergency?
Doing so allows for more funding and a globally coordinated response to the illness to help educate and prevent spread.
What’s the Bottom Line?
Monkeypox is a rare disease, most often seen in adults, spread by close physical contact. The risk to children anywhere, including in Pittsburgh, is very low.
At this time, there’s no need to change your habits or patterns, or to worry, other than avoiding contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with or may have been exposed to monkeypox. Kids Plus works closely with Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and regularly receives updates from them on infectious diseases in the region. As of Thursday, July 28th, an infectious disease expert there told us he saw absolutely no reason for parents in our region to be concerned.
For More Information
As always, we will update this information — including on our social media channels — if anything changes. If you have specific questions, you can call us in the office or send us a Patient Portal message anytime.
Dr. Amy Maddalena, a Kids Plus Provider since 2006, is the Medical Director of our Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh.