Questions and answers about monkeypox

Predominant symptoms of monkeypox include fever, rash ,enlarged lymph nodes, muscle aches, and chills. Most patients with monkeypox have a mild illness. Symptom onset is 7-13 days after exposure, but can be as long as 3 weeks.

This week public health officials in Oklahoma, my home, confirmed a case of monkeypox. A disease usually only found in Africa, this smallpox related virus has been spreading throughout the United States and 34 other countries in 2022.

What is monkeypox?

 Monkeypox, an orthopoxvirus, was first isolated in the late 1950s from a colony of sick monkeys. The virus is related to the variola, smallpox, and vaccinia, coxpox, viruses.

Where is monkeypox found?

Since routine smallpox immunization ended, most cases have occurred in Central and West Africa. Sporadic cases have been reported in several non-endemic countries, typically in returning travelers.

Monkeypox is rare and does not spread easily between people without close contact. The threat of monkeypox to the general U.S. population remains LOW.  

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
worldwide cases of monkeypox as of June 21, 2022

How does it spread?

The virus is typically acquired through contact with an infected animal’s bodily fluids or through a bite.

Human-to-human transmission can also occur through close contact with infectious skin lesions.

Transmission can also occur through large respiratory droplets, and prolonged face-to-face contact (eg, within 6 feet for ≥3 hours in the absence of personal protection equipment [PPE]).

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

Predominant symptoms of monkeypox include fever, rash ,enlarged lymph nodes, muscle aches, and chills. Most patients with monkeypox have a mild illness. Symptom onset is 7-13 days after exposure, but can be as long as 3 weeks.

The rash is similar to that of smallpox or chickenpox. Click here to see

Examples of monkeypox rash.

How do doctors diagnose monkeypox?

Doctors usually suspect monkeypox based on symptoms, especially a suspicious rash. Testing is done on specimens collected by swabbing monkeypox lesions, but should only be obtained by professionals wearing appropriate PPE.

CDC is working with state and local health officials to identify people who may have been in contact with individuals who have tested positive for monkeypox, so they can monitor their health.

CDC website
This electron microscopic (EM) image depicted a monkeypox virion, obtained from a clinical sample associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. It was a thin section image from of a human skin sample. On the left were mature, oval-shaped virus particles, and on the right were the crescents, and spherical particles of immature virions.

This electron microscopic (EM) image depicted a monkeypox virion, obtained from a clinical sample associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. It was a thin section image from of a human skin sample. On the left were mature, oval-shaped virus particles, and on the right were the crescents, and spherical particles of immature virions. credit CDC, Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regnery

What treatments are available?

Most patients have mild disease and recover without home supportive care, similar to influenza, COVID, and other viral infections. For the seriously ill patient, medically supervised supportive care is necessary until recovery.

The antiviral agents, tecovirimat and brincidofovir, approved for treatment of smallpox in the United States, work for monkeypox in animals and are likely to work in humans.

Can monkeypox be prevented?

When a rash is present, persons with suspected monkeypox should be considered infectious and be isolated until all scabs separate and results of testing are negative.  

Detailed information on infection control precautions to reduce transmission of monkeypox in the home is on the CDC website.

Persons with close contact with an infected animal or person should be monitored for symptoms for 21 days after their last exposure .

Detailed information on the approach to monitoring after an exposure can be found on the CDC website.

The use of smallpox vaccination for pre-exposure and post-exposure prevention may be reasonable in select settings, after consultation with public health authorities.

Is monkeypox fatal?

In Central Africa, the fatality rate is approximately 10 percent, generally in the second week of illness.

In the 2003 outbreak in the United States, none of the 34 confirmed cases died, although a few became seriously ill, requiring hospitalization.

Exploring the HEART of international health

I appreciate all of you who are following Watercress Words, and if you aren’t I invite you to join the wonderful people who are. You can meet some of them in the sidebar, where you can click on their image and visit their blogs. Use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me.

a world globe with crossed bandaids

Dr Aletha

cover image by Jerney Furman

Dr Jane Goodall-messenger of hope

Prior to the onset of the pandemic, Dr. Goodall averaged travelling 300 days per year on behalf of the Jane Goodall Institute teaching, lecturing, and advocating for care of our environment. COVID-19 stopped the travel, but not her work.

Dr. Goodall’s pandemic warning

Knowing of her concern for animals, humans, and the planet, I suspected Dr. Goodall has opinions about the COVID-19 pandemic. In this July 3, 2020 interview with CBS News she said this,

we brought this on ourselves… the scientists that have been studying these .. zoonotic diseases ( jump from an animal to a human) have been predicting …this . As we chop down at stake tropical rainforest, We’re driving deeper and deeper, making roads throughout the habitat, which … brings people and animals in contact with each other.

People are hunting the animals and selling the meat, or trafficking the infants, and all of this is creating environments which are perfect for a virus or a bacteria to cross that species barrier and sometimes, like COVID-19, it becomes very contagious and we’re suffering from it. 

In the Shadow of Man-and chimpanzees

In 1960,26 year old Jane Goodall went to Tanzania to study chimpanzees. No one had studied chimps before, so little was known about their behavior in the wild. Biologically and genetically, chimps are closer to humans than any other animal, so scientists believed understanding their behavior could shed light on some aspects of human behavior.

Jane roamed the forests of the Gombe Stream Chimpanze Reserve in Tanzania watching the chimps first with binoculars then with direct observation at close range, even occasionally close enough to touch them. Her mother Vanne lived with her and a photographer Hugo van Lawick joined them. Working together with nature and animals as their common interest, they fell in love and married. Eventually she had a staff of research assistants and students involved in observation and reporting about the chimps and other animals.

Title page of the book I bought at a used book sale.

In this book, written 10 years later (and periodically updated; my copy was revised in 1988.) Dr. Goodall details her years of living among the chimps and her detailed observations and conclusions about their behavior. (For which she earned her doctorate degree.)

One of her observations was that “like humans, chimpanzees are omnivores, feeding on vegetables, insects, and meat.”

Harvest for Hope-A Guide to Mindful Eating

Jane Goodall is just as interested in people as she is chimpanzees. Despite the title, though, this book is not about dining while listening to soothing music by candlelight in order to relax and de-stress.

Jane Goodall wants us to manage stress , not so much our own, but the stress of our planet, by producing, transporting, preparing, and eating our food in ways less harmful and wasteful to us and our planet. She wants us to

Change one purchase,

one meal, one bite at a time

Jane Goodall

Goodall reflected back on her life as a child in England , when her family’s food supply was limited by the shortages of a world war. Even in peacetime, they ate what was grown locally and seasonally, rather than food flown in from distant lands. Her nutrition ideas are not new or unique, but she helps us realize our food choices effect the environment as much as the environment effects our diet.

Dr. Goodall recommends buying locally grown, organic foods exclusively, and avoid GMO foods, imports, bottled water, and fast food. She advocates a meat free diet. She urges us to waste less. She believes we need to “take back food productions from large corporations.”  We will be healthier and so will our planet she believes.

Dr. Jane recommends humans avoid

  • GMO (genetically modified organism) foods
  • meat
  • imported food
  • bottled water
  • fast food
  • refined processed carbs
  • concentrated and synthetic sweeteners
  • commercial oils

Dr. Jane encourages us to

  • Take back food production from large corporations
  • Waste less.
  • Use a filter for drinking water
  • Eat organic locally grown food.
  • Eat fruits, vegetables, legumes
  • Use olive oil, herbs, seasonings
Dr. Goodall’s advocacy in a pandemic

Prior to the onset of the pandemic, Dr. Goodall averaged travelling 300 days per year on behalf of the Jane Goodall Institute teaching, lecturing, and advocating for care of our environment. COVID-19 stopped the travel, but not her work.

From March 2020, instead of traversing the globe, she brings the world to her family home in Bournemouth England . From her small attic bedroom filled with momentos of her travels, books, old photos, and the single bed she sleeps on, she gives interviews and lectures by video on her laptop.

She will begin travelling again in 2022 but not the intense schedule pre-pandemic; she can reach more people online. According to an interview in TIME, she will “spread hope and inspire people for as long as she can, for the sake of future generations.”

At 87, one never knows quite what the future holds. I’m about to leave the world, and leave it behind me with all the mess. Young people have to grow up into it. They need everybit of help they can”

Dr. Goodall, TIME, October 11/18, 2021

a final thought about pandemics

But we know if we don’t stop destroying the environment and disrespecting animals — we’re hunting them, killing them, eating them; there will be another one. It’s inevitable.

Dr. Jane Goodall
Dr. Goodall’s latest book is

The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times (Global Icons Series) 

In The Book of Hope, Jane focuses on her “Four Reasons for Hope”:

  • The Amazing Human Intellect,
  • The Resilience of Nature,
  • The Power of Young People, and
  • The Indomitable Human Spirit.

Looking at the headlines―the worsening climate crisis, a global pandemic, loss of biodiversity, political upheaval―it can be hard to feel optimistic. And yet hope has never been more desperately needed.

In this urgent book, Jane Goodall, the world’s most famous living naturalist, and Douglas Abrams, the internationally bestselling co-author of The Book of Joy, explore through intimate and thought-provoking dialogue one of the most sought after and least understood elements of human nature: hope.

The Book of Hope touches on vital questions, including: How do we stay hopeful when everything seems hopeless? How do we cultivate hope in our children? What is the relationship between hope and action?

Filled with moving and inspirational stories and photographs from Jane’s remarkable career, The Book of Hope is a deeply personal conversation with one of the most beloved figures in the world today.

While discussing the experiences that shaped her discoveries and beliefs, Jane tells the story of how she became a messenger of hope, from living through World War II to her years in Gombe to realizing she had to leave the forest to travel the world in her role as an advocate for environmental justice. And for the first time, she shares her profound revelations about her next, and perhaps final, adventure. (an Amazon affiliate link)

exploring the HEART of health

I appreciate all of you who are following Watercress Words, and if you aren’t I invite you to join the wonderful people who are. You can meet some of them in the sidebar, where you can click on their image and visit their blogs. Use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me.

Dr. Aletha
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