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Monkeypox: should I be worried?

Monkeypox: should I be worried?

The first cases of monkeypox in Australia were recorded in May in travellers who had recently returned from Europe.

This makes Australia one of the growing number of countries in the world where the disease has been detected.

It’s understandable if you are worried about monkeypox. To put your mind at rest, we have compiled some useful information about the condition, answering some common questions.

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare illness, caused by the monkeypox virus. Until recently, it was only seen in some African countries. It’s like smallpox, which has now been eradicated across the world.

But while smallpox could only be passed between people, humans can also be infected after being scratched or bitten by animals.

Monkeypox is a respiratory disease, which means it can affect the areas of your body that help you breathe, such as your lungs and throat.

How is it spread?

Monkeypox is not spread easily, unlike some other viruses including the Coronavirus.

It is most usually spread through close contact with a person with monkeypox. This can be through:

  • Contact with the blisters that are one of the symptoms of monkeypox
  • Contact with bodily fluids
  • Contact with items that have been contaminated, like bed linen and towels

Monkeypox may also be spread:

  • To an unborn baby if their mother is infected
  • From animals to people through scratches or bites
  • Through respiratory droplets that are released from the body when you breathe, speak, cough, sneeze or vomit

What are monkeypox symptoms?

The incubation period, which is the time from the initial infection to when the first symptoms appear, is usually between 7 and 14 days.

These symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Aches and pains
  • A rash with fluid-filled blisters that appears up to 3 days after fever. It tends to affect the face, arms, legs, palms of the hands, soles of the feet and inside the mouth.

Symptoms usually last between two and four weeks.

Who gets monkeypox?

Your risk of getting infected with monkeypox is greater if:

  • You have recently returned from travelling
  • You have been in close contact with someone with monkeypox

What should I do if I think I have monkeypox?

As soon as you suspect you have monkeypox, you should isolate at home and avoid close contact with other people.

Seek medical advice straight away. If you need to go to a clinic or hospital, wear a facemask and avoid contact with others.

What’s the treatment for monkeypox?

Monkeypox treatment involves taking care of mild to moderate symptoms like fever by keeping the patient cool, offering plenty of fluids and using a thermometer to check their temperature.

If symptoms are severe or the patient develops complications, they may need to be treated in the hospital.

Is there a monkeypox vaccine?

People who have previously been vaccinated against smallpox may have some protection against monkeypox.

There is a vaccine against monkeypox but availability is currently limited.

How can monkeypox be prevented?

As well as staying away from infected people, these steps can help prevent the spread of monkeypox:

  • If you have already been given the smallpox vaccination, you may already have some immunity.
  • You may be offered a smallpox vaccination if you have been in close contact with someone with monkeypox. This can help prevent monkeypox if given within four days of exposure.
  • If you travel to affected areas in Africa, you should avoid handling animals or wild game (also known as bush meat).
  • When you are out in public, you can wear a face mask to help prevent the spread of viruses and other germs that cause monkeypox and other diseases.
  • Washing your hands frequently and using hand sanitiser in between handwashing is another effective way of preventing many different diseases.

You can find out more about all aspects of monkeypox on the healthdirect website.

So…should I be worried about monkeypox?

Because monkeypox is not transmitted as easily as some other viruses, you shouldn’t be too concerned about it unless you have been in close contact with an infected person.

It’s also worth remembering that it is at present considered a rare disease.

But it pays to keep yourself and your family protected from this and other viruses and germs that can cause disease.

You can do this by stocking up on items from the FeverMates collection that will help prevent the spread of infection.

For face masks, hand sanitiser and many other wellness products, browse our online collection. We are proud to do our part to keep Australians healthy and infection-free!

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