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News | Sept. 7, 2022

Monkeypox education recommended as U.S. cases continue to rise

By Alpha Kamara, WRNMMC Command Communications

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shed more light on the monkeypox virus as the number of cases continue to increase in the United States. 
As of Sept. 6, the CDC reported approximately 20,000 monkeypox cases in the U.S. Over one thousand seven hundred of those cases are in the DMV (District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia and Washington).
Symptoms and modes of transmission
In humans, the symptoms of monkeypox may include pox lesions (rash), fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion, sore throat, and cough, according to the Military Health System.
Monkeypox may cause lymph nodes to swell (lymphadenopathy) and the time from infection to experiencing symptoms (incubation period) is usually within three weeks of exposure to the virus, the CDC explained. The most common symptom of monkeypox is a rash usually located near the genitals, hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth. Often resembling pimples or blisters, the rash may be painful or itchy, and go through several stages, including scabs, before healing.
CDC officials add that engaging in close intimate contact with someone who has monkeypox is the most common way of spreading the virus. Anyone exposed to the sores or bodily fluids of an infectious person is at risk.
“Monkeypox can spread from person-to-person through direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids. It also can spread through respiratory secretions during prolonged face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex. It is also possible for people to get monkeypox from infected animals, either from bites by the animal or coming into contact with the blood, body fluids or lesions (rash) of an infected animal, or by eating meat or using products from an infected animal,” MHS officials’ state.
The Defense Health Agency is closely monitoring the human-to-human transmission of the monkeypox virus.
According to CDC, treatments specifically for monkeypox do not exist. “However, monkeypox and smallpox viruses are genetically similar, which means that antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox may be used to prevent and treat monkeypox,” the CDC explains.
“Most patients with monkeypox infection have mild disease and do not require medical intervention. Supportive care is the primary means of treatment, which may include hydration, keeping skin lesions clean and dry, applying topical agents, and treating secondary bacterial infection,” the CDC added.
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center currently has a limited supply of a smallpox vaccine approved by the FDA for the prevention of smallpox and monkeypox, according to Navy Lt. Cmdr. (Dr.) Sara Robinson, chair of the Infection Prevention and Control Committee.
“WRNMMC has recently received a shipment of smallpox vaccine with enough supply to allow us to offer the product to patients [18 years of age and older] at high-risk for severe disease or who have increased risk for exposure to monkeypox.” Robinson added.
“If you think you may be at increased risk for exposure, please reach out to your primary care provider to determine both your eligibility and vaccine availability,” Robinson added. WRNMMC will continue to follow CDC guidance regarding vaccination prioritization based on available supply.
For more on monkeypox facts and case status, visit the CDC website:
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