The World Health Organization’s top monkeypox expert said she doesn’t expect the hundreds of cases reported to date to turn into another pandemic, but acknowledged there are still many unknowns about the disease, including how exactly it’s spreading and whether the suspension of mass smallpox immunization decades ago may somehow be speeding its transmission.
WHO's Dr. Rosamund Lewis said the agency is investigating questions including whether monkeypox is spread via sex, in the air and if people without symptoms are capable of transmitting the disease. She said past outbreaks have suggested the disease does not spread easily and said there is still time to contain the current problem.
Typical symptoms of monkeypox include a rash, fever, malaise, headache and muscle aches.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended the following steps in countries with known monkeypox infections:
- Close contact with sick people, including those with skin lesions or genital lesions
- Contact with dead or live wild animals such as small mammals including rodents (rats, squirrels) and non-human primates (monkeys, apes)
- Eating or preparing meat from wild game (bushmeat) or using products derived from wild animals from Africa (creams, lotions, powders)
- Contact with contaminated materials used by sick people (such as clothing, bedding, or materials used in healthcare settings) or that came into contact with infected animals.
The CDC said the risk of monkeypox to the public is low but you should avoid contact with others if you develop an unexplained skin rash.