Monkeypox (cont.)

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What is the treatment for monkeypox?

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The CDC recommends the following:

  • A smallpox vaccination should be administered within two weeks of exposure to monkeypox.
  • Cidofovir (Vistide), an antiviral drug, is suggested for patients with severe, life-threatening symptoms.
  • Vaccinia immune globulin may be used, but efficacy of use has not been documented.

For severe symptoms, supportive measures such as mechanical ventilation may rarely be needed. Consultation with an infectious-diseases expert and the CDC is recommended.

What is the prognosis of monkeypox?

The usual prognosis of patients with monkeypox is good to excellent; many patients have mild symptoms. However, patients with immune or other compromised health problems (malnutrition, lung problems) may develop complications of secondary bacterial infections, pneumonia, and dehydration. Early estimations of a death rate of 10% has been published, but in the last approximate 10-15 years, this has been revised to less than 2% of infected individuals, with the worst cases originating from animal-to-human infection, not person to person.

Can monkeypox be prevented?

Monkeypox can be prevented by avoiding eating or touching animals known to acquire the virus in the wild (mainly African rodents and monkeys). Person-to-person transfer has been documented; patients who have the disease should physically isolate themselves until all of the pox lesions have healed (lost their crusts), and people who are caring for these patients should use barriers (gloves and face masks) to avoid any direct or droplet contact. Caregivers should obtain a smallpox vaccination (see below).

Because smallpox and monkeypox are so closely related, studies have suggested that people vaccinated against smallpox have about an 85% chance of being protected from monkeypox. Consequently, the CDC recommends the following:

  • Patients with depressed immune systems and those who are allergic to latex or smallpox vaccine should not get the smallpox vaccine.
  • Anyone else who has been exposed to monkeypox in the past 14 days should get the smallpox vaccine, including children under 1 year of age, pregnant women, and people with skin conditions.

There is no commercially available vaccine designed specifically for monkeypox.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/30/2014

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