FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AFNS) —
The World Health Organization declared monkeypox a public health emergency on July 23. With more than 4,000 cases in the United States, Airmen and Guardians should know the risks and how to stay safe.
Monkeypox is spread primarily from person to person through prolonged close contact with infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids, as well as respiratory droplets or oral fluids. Additionally, spread can also occur through handling objects such as bedding or clothing belonging to someone with a known infection.
Vaccine and treatment
The Food and drug administration has approved a monkeypox vaccine, but it’s in limited supply in the United States. defense department works with the Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention to ensure that all service members, in the United States and abroad, receive a vaccine within 24 to 48 hours.
Members who have questions, concerns or want to know their eligibility for the vaccine should contact their military processing center. Patients receiving care outside of the MTF should contact their local provider.
The stream tips on who can get vaccinated prioritizes those who are a known contact identified through public health contact tracing, as well as those who have had sexual contact in the past 14 days with someone who has been infected or had multiple sexual partners in the past 14 days in an area with known cases of monkeypox. In addition, people whose work may expose them to monkeypox, such as laboratory workers who handle monkeypox samples, are advised to receive the vaccine.
“If you believe you fall into one of these categories, you should contact your provider promptly to be assessed and confirm the need for the vaccine,” said Lt. Col. David Sayers, chief of preventive medicine, Air Force Medical Readiness Agency.
Airmen and guards should seek immediate medical attention if they believe they have been in close contact with someone with a known infection or have a suspected infection themselves.
“Please don’t wait to see a doctor if you think you are infected or a close contact,” Sayers said. “While the current outbreak has mostly been seen in men, anyone can be at risk of becoming infected. Children, pregnant women, and immunocompromised people are most at risk of serious complications from infection.
Isolation is recommended for the duration of illness if an individual is confirmed to have monkeypox. Treatment consists mainly of supportive care to treat pain, rashes, fever, and body aches, especially in young, healthy people. Currently, there are no specific drugs licensed to treat monkeypox.
The most prominent symptom of monkeypox is a rash that typically begins on the face and spreads to the extremities. In the current outbreak, the rash has been found to be primarily distributed in the genital area in some people. Symptoms also include fever, body aches, swollen lymph nodes, and fatigue.
The time between infection and onset of symptoms is usually seven to 14 days, but can vary from five to 21 days in total.
“The rash goes through stages where it appears as a pimple and evolves into a pustule. This pustule then breaks open and crusts before it heals,” Sayers said.
For more information and resources on monkeypox, visit the Air Force Medical Department to place.