Penn Highlands Healthcare Helps You Learn Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Monkeypox

Just when people's fears about the many variants of the COVID-19 virus began to ease, a new virus - monkeypox - became news and may be causing some people to worry. With the federal government declaring the growing monkeypox outbreak a national health emergency, Deepak Garg, MD, a physician with Penn Highlands Infectious Disease, participated in a recent interview about the virus. Below are his comments.

What is monkeypox?

Dr. Garg: Monkeypox is caused by the monkeypox virus, which is in the same family of viruses that causes smallpox. Monkeypox is milder than smallpox and is rarely fatal.

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

Dr. Garg: The symptoms of monkeypox are very similar to those of many other illnesses – fever, headache, chills, muscle pain, swollen lymph nodes and respiratory problems such as a sore throat, nasal congestion and cough. However, the one big difference is that with monkeypox, a rash presents. The rash is commonly near the genitals, but it can also be on the hands, feet, chest or face. The rash may look like pimples or blisters and may be itchy or painful before scabs form and they heal.

Is monkeypox contagious?

Dr. Garg: The known forms of monkeypox transmission include: through personal contact such as skin-to-skin contact; coming in contact with an infected person's body fluids or respiratory secretions or touching clothing or linens that have been worn or used by someone with the virus.

Can a person contract monkeypox from animals?

Dr. Garg: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the answer is yes. If someone is scratched or bitten by an animal with the virus or if they prepare or eat the meat of an infected animal, they can contract the virus.

When is a person with the virus contagious?

Dr. Garg: A person can spread monkeypox from the time symptoms appear until the rash is fully healed.

How long is someone sick with monkeypox?

Dr. Garg: Monkeypox typically lasts two to four weeks.

How is monkeypox treated?

Dr. Garg: While there are not any treatments specific to monkeypox, the vaccine and antiviral drugs used for smallpox are successfully being used to treat monkeypox.

If someone was vaccinated against smallpox as a child, will they be protected from monkeypox?

Dr. Garg: Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have published data showing that the smallpox vaccine is 85% effective in preventing monkeypox infection. However, the effectiveness of the smallpox vaccine wanes over time so a childhood vaccination 50 years ago many not prove as effective today.

How does someone protect themselves from monkeypox?

Dr. Garg: To avoid getting monkeypox, do not touch the skin of anyone with a rash and avoid close contact with them. Do not touch any objects that a person with monkeypox may have used. Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer.

About Dr. Garg

Deepak Garg, MD, specializes in Infectious Disease and Wound Care at Penn Highlands Healthcare. He is board certified in Infectious Disease by the American Board of Internal Medicine and in Internal Medicine by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Garg received his medical degree from Government Medical College, Patiala, Punjab, India. He completed his internship and residency at Interfaith Medical Center, Department of Internal Medicine, New York, and a fellowship in Infectious Disease with the Department of Infectious Disease, St. John Hospital and Medical Center, Detroit, Michigan. Dr. Garg is a member of the American Medical Association, Infectious Diseases Society of America and the Michigan Infectious Diseases Society.

Dr. Garg's office is located at 635 Maple Avenue, Entrance A, DuBois, PA 15801.

Deepak Garg, MD
Deepak Garg, MD