Background, Symptoms, Precautions and Vaccine
Monkeypox is caused by monkeypox virus, a member of the Orthopoxvirus genus in the family Poxviridae. This is part of the same family of viruses that causes smallpox. MPXV produces symptoms that are milder but similar in nature to smallpox. It is not related to Chickenpox.
Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease first found in 1958 among laboratory monkeys in Copenhagen, Denmark. The first human case was in the 1970 in Democratic Republic of the Congo. It has had viral reservoirs in African rodents and non-human primates.
The WHO has talked about renaming the virus due to racism and stigma concerns. This current outbreak in Europe, North America, Israel, and Australia has disproportionally affected the Gay, Bisexual and MSM (Men who Sleep with Men) community, leading to stigma and misinformation.
From the CDC:
Symptoms of monkeypox can include:
- Muscle aches and backache
- Muscle aches and backache
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
- A rash that may be located on or near the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus (butthole) but could also be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth.
- The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing.
- The rash can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy.
You may experience all or only a few symptoms:
- Sometimes, people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.
- Most people with monkeypox will get a rash.
- Some people have developed a rash before (or without) other symptoms.
Monkeypox symptoms usually start within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus. If someone has flu-like symptoms, they will usually develop a rash 1-4 days later.
Monkeypox can be spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.
If You Have a New or Unexplained Rash or Other Symptoms...
- Avoid close contact, including sex or being intimate with anyone, until you have been checked out by a healthcare provider.
- If you don’t have a provider or health insurance, visit a public health clinic near you.
- When you see a healthcare provider, wear a mask, and remind them that this virus is circulating in the area.
From Mass DPH
When properly administered before or soon after exposure, vaccines can help protect against monkeypox illness.
The vaccine most commonly used for preventing monkeypox infection is JYNNEOS (also known as Imvamune or Imvanex) which has been licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In the United States, there is currently a limited supply of JYNNEOS and is solely distributed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Massachusetts’ initial CDC allocation of 2,004 doses was received on July 5th. More vaccine is expected to become available in coming weeks.
The JYNNEOS vaccine requires two shots, 28 days apart for maximum effectiveness. People are considered fully vaccinated about two weeks after their second shot. However, people who get vaccinated should continue to protect themselves from infection by avoiding close, skin-to-skin contact, including intimate contact, with someone who has monkeypox.
Data on JYNNEOS can be found on the CDC website.
VACCINE ELEGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS
Vaccination will be available to individuals who live or work in Massachusetts and meet the CDC’s current eligibility criteria, prioritizing those who are most at risk of exposure to an individual with monkeypox. This includes:
- Known contacts identified by public health via case investigation, contact tracing, and risk exposure assessments (this may include sexual partners, household contacts, and healthcare workers); as well as
- Presumed contacts who meet the following criteria:
- Know that a sexual partner in the past 14 days was diagnosed with monkeypox
- Had multiple sexual partners in the past 14 days in a jurisdiction with known monkeypox
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health will expand eligibility if and when more doses are received from the CDC.
Western Mass Locations for Vaccines
Tapestry Health (Springfield):
Appointments can be made by calling 413-586-2016,
extension 121, Monday through Friday
between 8 AM and 4 PM
Baystate Medical Center Brightwood Health Center (Springfield):
Appointments can be made by calling 413-794-4458
Monday through Friday
between 8 AM and 5 PM