I'll admit it.  The beginning of the latest outbreak of this disease, monkeypox, looks a lot like the beginning of the Covid outbreak.  There are people saying "don't be alarmed"  It won't be as big a problem as the Covid virus.  Then, the President goes on television and announces that this disease might become a big problem.  Suddenly, it is on everyone's radar.

While Covid was deadly, this virus is disfiguring, so in many ways it scares a lot of us in a whole different way.  So, how worried should we be about monkeypox here in San Angelo?

First of all, according to the CDC, monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 in colonies of monkeys kept for research.  The first human case happened in 1970.  Since then, monkeypox has spread to countries all over Central and Western Africa.

Photo: CDC
Photo: CDC
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On May 18th, a U.S. resident who just returned from Canada tested positive for the monkeypox virus. There have also been many cases reported in countries where they do not normally occur like Great Britain (which now has over 70 cases) and other countries in Western Europe. As a result, The CDC is urging healthcare providers to be alert for patients who display the symptoms.

So, what are the symptoms.  The illness begins with fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. Within one to three days after the apperance of fever, the patient develops a rash that spread all over the body. The rash can go through a variety of stages, sometimes looking like chickenpox, or syphilis, before forming a scab and falling off. The illness typically lasts for two to four weeks.  In Africa mortality rates are roughly 10%

Photo: San Angelo Health Department
Photo: San Angelo Health Department
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Here in San Angelo, Health Services Director, Sandra Villareal, says this is not the time for panic in San Angelo. "So far, there is only one isolated case in the United States. Although with any communicable disease, this would be a great time to be aware of the symptoms and how it is spread.,"  Villareal said. She adds that the Health Department has a rigorous protocol for dealing with any infectious outbreak in our area that includes public education and tracking of people who may have been exposed.

The good news about monkeypox, if there can be any such thing as good news when it comes to something so horrible, is that monkeypox does not spread easily between people. The virus is generally transmitted when an infected person, animal or material comes into close contact with another person. The virus enters the body through broken skin as well as the respiratory track and mucous membranes.

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Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash
Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash
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Generally transmission occurs with contact with bedding or towels used by an infected person, through direct contact with the monkeypox lesions, or coughing and sneezing of an individual with a moneypox rash.  It is not normally considered an STD but transmission can occur during sex.

So how worried should we be in San Angelo. Our Health Director says just be aware at this stage.  Let's hope this one doesn't get out of control like Covid.

KEEP READING: See 25 natural ways to boost your immune system

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