SALEM, Ohio (WKBN) — With the U.S. declaring monkeypox a national health emergency, there’s a thought of where the disease is leading us. Health experts remind us that the virus has been around for years but what exactly is monkeypox and how much do we have to worry?
Monkeypox has been making headlines across the nation. It’s a skin-to-skin contact infection that’s been spreading worldwide, over the last few months.
“The main symptom is a distinctive type of rash. It can be kind of blistery or look like a pimple,” said Dr. Mike Sevilla with Family Practice Center of Salem.
It can affect several areas like hands and arms but mainly, the disease affects the genital area. You can also experience other symptoms like a fever and chills.
Sevilla said it’s uncommon for you to feel pain.
“Fortunately for monkeypox, the rash and the symptoms usually go away on their own without any kind of treatment,” said Sevilla.
Unlike COVID-19, medical experts have known about monkeypox for years but the monkeypox vaccine isn’t readily available.
“So it’s not something that people can go to their doctor’s office. It’s not something people can go to their pharmacy to get a monkeypox vaccine because there’s still not a lot of it around,” said Sevilla.
Dr. Sevilla said it’s mostly handled by health departments and given to those most at-risk.
While most cases so far are among gay and bisexual men, health officials emphasize that anyone can contract the virus through close personal contact, and while Sevilla said the research has shown more gay men have contracted monkeypox it’s unclear why it affects that community more.
He also said he wouldn’t be surprised if cases rise over the next couple of months.
“As the fall starts to progress, you may see outbreaks on college campuses of monkeypox,” said Sevilla.
According to the CDC, there are over 6,000 cases in the U.S., 34 in Ohio, and 173 in Pennsylvania.
But Monkey Pox isn’t a death sentence. You can’t get it just being close to someone like COVID or the flu.
Sevilla does say not to worry.
“It is not anywhere close to the concern versus COVID and COVID infections,” said Sevilla.