South Florida has seen a rise in monkeypox cases, with the latest count showing at least 53 confirmed cases in Broward and 15 in Miami-Dade.
Throughout the past year, there has been an unprecedented spread of monkeypox across the globe, one that is now present in the United States.
So far in 2022, there have been over 7,000 reported cases in more than 50 countries around the world.
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In order to best protect yourself against contracting the disease, learn more about what it is and how you can remain healthy amidst the outbreak.
What is monkeypox?
According to the CDC, monkeypox is a "rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus."
While an official source for the disease is not known, it is linked to non-human primates and African rodents who infected people with the disease.
Before the current outbreak, monkeypox was not commonly present outside of Africa or within people who traveled to and from African countries.
How is monkeypox spread? Who is most vulnerable?
The virus can spread in many different ways, whether that may be person-to-person, from animals, or by eating contaminated foods.
When spread through human contact, it is common to contract the disease by direct contact with infectious rashes, scabs or bodily fluids, secretions during intimate physical contact, or exposure to contaminated items.
It can also be contracted after a scratch or bite from an infected animal, or after eating food products of an infected animal.
Gay and bisexual men are among the most vulnerable to the disease and "make up a high number of cases."
What are the signs and symptoms of monkeypox?
While monkeypox is rarely fatal, it will cause some uncomfortable symptoms for those infected. These are comparable to those of chickenpox, though the illnesses are not related.
The symptoms include fever, headache, muscle/back ache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.
The most notable symptom is the pimple/blister like rash that develops on the face, mouth, hands, feet, chest, genitals or anus.
If I become infected with the disease, what should I do?
If a person is experiencing symptoms of monkeypox, they should speak with their healthcare provider immediately.
While there are no treatments specifically for monkeypox, smallpox drugs and vaccines may work to treat the disease. Other antiviral medication may be prescribed in severe cases.
Is there a vaccine for monkeypox? How else can I prevent contracting the illness?
At present, there are two available monkeypox vaccines available in the United States. For more information on these, please see here.
Other preventative measures include avoiding skin-to-skin contact with those with monkeypox, washing hands frequently with alcohol based hand sanitizer and avoiding contact with animals during travel to Central and West Africa.