LANDSTUHL, Germany -- Despite the increase of monkeypox cases in Europe, Public Health Command Europe officials say the military community is at low risk of contracting the virus. However, Public Health officials want the community to be aware of the signs and symptoms of the virus.
"Monkeypox is a rare disease that is caused by infection with the monkeypox virus," said Lt. Col. William Washington, chief of Epidemiology at Public Health Command Europe. "Monkeypox is most common in remote parts of Central and West Africa but recently, cases have been confirmed in the U.S., Europe, Canada and Germany."
What is monkeypox?
The monkeypox virus is a member of the same family of viruses as smallpox, although it is much less severe and experts from Public Health Command Europe say chances of infection are relatively low.
"Human-to-human transmission is thought to occur primarily through large respiratory droplets. Respiratory droplets generally cannot travel more than a few feet, so prolonged face-to-face contact is required," said Washington. "Other human-to-human methods of transmission include direct contact with body fluids or lesion material, and indirect contact with lesion material, such as through contaminated clothing or linens."
In humans, the symptoms of monkeypox are similar to, but milder than the symptoms of smallpox.
Monkeypox infections begin with fever, headache, muscle aches, and exhaustion. The incubation period (time from infection to symptoms) for monkeypox is usually 7−14 days but can range from 5−21 days.
Early signs can include:
- Muscle aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
Usually within one to three days after the appearance of fever, the patient develops a rash, often beginning on the face then spreading to other parts of the body. The illness typically lasts for 2−4 weeks.
According to the World Health Organization, close contact with people who are infected is the most significant risk factor for infection. By reducing contact with patients, the transmission chain can be broken.
"Because monkeypox virus is closely related to the virus that causes smallpox, the smallpox vaccine can protect people from getting monkeypox if indicated," said Washington.
If you think you may have been exposed, please reach out to your local medical treatment facility.
Please visit https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/index.html for more details.