Monkeypox Guidance: What To Do If You Were Exposed Or Have Symptoms
Jessica is a Wellness News Writer who wants to help people stay informed about their health. She’s from the Midwest, studied investigative reporting at the Missouri School of Journalism and is now based in NYC.
The monkeypox outbreak in the US is spreading, but there are vaccines and other treatments available.
Why it matters
Because the outbreak is ongoing, more people will be diagnosed with or exposed to monkeypox in the coming weeks.
What it means for you
Anyone with close contact to a person with the disease can get it, but monkeypox doesn’t spread as easily as COVID-19 or the flu. People most affected right now are men who have sex with men.
The monkeypox outbreak is now officially considered a public health emergency in the US. Monkeypox isn’t a new disease, but the fact that it’s spreading in countries where it isn’t normally found is new. What’s more, symptoms of monkeypox in this outbreak appear to be presenting a little differently. People today are getting rashes anywhere on their body, as opposed to the more “classic” rash in previous cases that started on the face and spread from there.
Here’s what the guidance says on what to do if you’re sick with or have been exposed to monkeypox.
You should avoid shaving near your rash while you’re recovering from monkeypox so you don’t spread the virus to new parts of your body.
Get Treatment And Care Virtually
Whether youre stuck at home with a fever or you arent ready to leave your house just yet, there are a couple ways to get quality virtual care that fits your preferences.
Make a video visit appointment for face-to-face care from a doctor or nurse practitioner. With video visits, your doctor will listen to your symptoms, answer questions and work with you to create a tailored treatment plan if needed. For example, your doctor may prescribe antivirals to treat the flu.
Start a virtual visit anytime, anyplace through Virtuwell. With Virtuwell, no appointment is necessary and treatment is available 24/7. Getting started is easy. Well ask you a few questions, and youll get your diagnosis and treatment plan from a board-certified nurse practitioner.
People At Higher Risk From Flu
Anyone can get sick with flu, even healthy people, and serious problems related to flu can happen to anyone at any age, but some people are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions , pregnant people and children younger than 5 years, but especially those younger than 2 years old.
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When To See Your Gp
Consider visiting your GP if:
- you’re 65 years of age or over
- you’re pregnant
- you have a long-term medical condition such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease or a neurological disease
- you have a weakened immune system for example because you’re having chemotherapy or have HIV
- you develop chest pain, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing or start coughing up blood
- your symptoms are getting worse over time or haven’t improved after a week
In these situations, you may need medication to treat or prevent complications of flu. Your GP may recommend taking antiviral medicine to reduce your symptoms and help you recover more quickly.
Who Should Get Vaccinated
At the national level, anyone who has had close contact with an infected person, who has a weakened immune system or who had dermatitis or eczema is eligible for a Jynneos vaccine.
Some state and local governments are also making vaccines available to people in communities at higher risk for monkeypox. For example, New York City is allowing men who have sex with men and who have had multiple sexual partners in the past 14 days to get vaccinated.
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What Causes The Flu
The flu is caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. These viruses spread when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk, sending droplets with the virus into the air and potentially into the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. You can also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching your own mouth, eyes or nose.
You can spread the flu before you know you are sick, beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.
Vaccine Supply And Distribution
How much influenza vaccine is projected to be available for the 2021-2022 influenza season?
Flu vaccine is produced by private manufacturers, so supply depends on manufacturers. Vaccine manufacturers have projected that they will supply the United States with as many as 188 million to 200 million doses of influenza vaccine for the 2021-2022 season. These projections may change as the season progresses. All flu vaccines for the 2021-2022 season will be quadrivalent . Most will be thimerosal-free or thimerosal-reduced vaccine and about 18% of flu vaccines will be egg-free.
Where can I find information about vaccine supply?
Special Consideration Regarding Egg Allergy
People with egg allergies can receive any licensed, recommended age-appropriate influenza vaccine that is otherwise appropriate. People who have a history of severe egg allergy should be vaccinated in a medical setting, supervised by a health care provider who is able to recognize and manage severe allergic reactions. Two completely egg-free flu vaccine options are available: quadrivalent recombinant vaccine and quadrivalent cell-based vaccine.
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Failure To Get The Annual Flu Shot
The best way to reduce your risk of the flu is by getting the annual influenza vaccine, which is recommended for all people six months and older. If you choose not to get the vaccine, you are at risk of catching influenza and transmitting it to vulnerable people around you.
The flu shot is reformulated each year based on the prediction of which strains of flu will be circulating. While the prediction is not always perfect, it can prevent catching the flu or may make the flu milder if you do catch it.
The vaccine works by stimulating your body to create antibodies that will fight the influenza virus. If you are actually exposed to the influenza virus, your body will recognize it and be able to fight it off.
Check If You Have Flu
Flu symptoms come on very quickly and can include:
- a sudden high temperature of 38C or above
- an aching body
- diarrhoea or tummy pain
- feeling sick and being sick
The symptoms are similar for children, but they can also get pain in their ear and appear less active.
Cold and flu symptoms are similar, but flu tends to be more severe.
|Appears quickly within a few hours||Appears gradually|
|Affects more than just your nose and throat||Affects mainly your nose and throat|
|Makes you feel exhausted and too unwell to carry on as normal||Makes you feel unwell, but you’re OK to carry on as normal|
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How To Avoid Spreading The Flu
Flu is very infectious and easily spread to other people. You’re more likely to give it to others in the first 5 days.
Flu is spread by germs from coughs and sneezes, which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours.
To reduce the risk of spreading flu:
- wash your hands often with warm water and soap
- use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze
- bin used tissues as quickly as possible
- try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people if you have a high temperature or you do not feel well enough to do your normal activities
Get A Vaccine If You Can
If you were exposed to monkeypox within the last two weeks and don’t have any symptoms, you should reach out to your local health department to see if you’re able to get a Jynneos vaccine. The vaccine is most effective if given within four days of exposure, but may still be effective at reducing the severity of symptoms if given between four days and two weeks after initial exposure.
While criteria for who can get one varies city to city based on how much spread there is in a certain area, chances are if you were exposed you live in an area that is offering the vaccine. Also, in areas like New York City, San Francisco, Denver and other big cities, gay and bisexual men who’ve had multiple or anonymous sexual partners within the last two weeks are eligible for the vaccine, regardless of whether they’ve been officially exposed.
Unfortunately, demand for the vaccine has been high and supply has been relatively low. To ensure your best chances of getting a vaccine soon and see what other resources are available to you, you should call your doctor in addition to the health department.
If you’re at higher risk of severe disease for monkeypox , reach out to your doctor to see if there are additional treatments or antivirals available to you post-exposure.
People waiting in line for a monkeypox vaccine at a pop-up clinic in Brooklyn, New York. The government is releasing doses of Jynneos as states request it, but supply has been limited.
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How Should I Treat It
Consider giving your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen as directed on the bottle for fevers, headache and body aches, or by your pediatrician. Have your child drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. This is especially important if your child has a high fever, vomiting or diarrhea. Keep your child apart from other members of the household, help him or her rest and keep him or her at home at least 24 hours after fever and other symptoms subside.
Do not share eating utensils, drinking glasses, washcloths, towels, beds, pillows, etc. until everyone in the household has been free of symptoms for five days.
Because the flu is caused by a virus it does NOT respond to antibiotics.
When To Call 911
The flu can quickly take a turn for the worse and may require emergency care. If you experience any of the following symptoms, seek immediate medical attention, as these may be a sign of serious or life-threatening complications:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Persistent dizziness, confusion, inability to arouse
- A fever above 105 F that does not respond to medication
In children, seek immediate medical attention for these symptoms:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish lips or face
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Misconceptions About Stomach Flu
Is the stomach flu really flu?
No. Many people use the term stomach flu to describe illnesses with nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. These symptoms can be caused by many different viruses, bacteria or even parasites. While vomiting, diarrhea, and being nauseous or sick to your stomach can sometimes be related to flu more commonly in children than adults these problems are rarely the main symptoms of influenza. Flu is a respiratory disease and not a stomach or intestinal disease.
Flu Or Food Poisoning
There are many types of viruses, and some can affect the digestive system. People sometimes call this stomach flu. This illness is different from influenza, which is a respiratory disease.
The most common cause of stomach flu is the norovirus, which enters the body through contaminated food or drink. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Food poisoning causes similar symptoms.
Is it a stomach virus or food poisoning? Find out here.
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The Best Treatment Is To Take Steps To Prevent Illness
Few common illnesses are more unpleasant than the flu. The aches and pains, chills, fever, and cough are bad enough add in the other potential symptoms of flu, including runny nose, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, or sore throat, and you’ll want the illness to be over as soon as possible. How long does the flu last? And does treating flu help make it go away faster? The answers depend on your particular health.
The Flu Shot Is Your Best Defence
This years flu season is taking place at the same time as COVID-19. Dont take any unnecessary risks with your health. Get the flu shot as early in the season as possible.
The flu shot is recommended for everyone 6 months old and older. It is:
- available from your doctor or nurse practitioner, and at participating pharmacies and local public health units across the province
- proven to reduce the number of doctor visits, hospitalizations and deaths related to the flu
- different each year because the virus changes frequently so you need to get it every fall
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Why Should People Get Vaccinated Against Flu
Influenza is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and flu can affect people differently, but millions of people get flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands to tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. Flu can mean a few days of feeling bad and missing work or it can result in more serious illness. Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against flu. Vaccination has been shown to have many benefits including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and even the risk of flu-related death in children. While some people who get a flu vaccine may still get sick, flu vaccination has been shown in several studies to reduce severity of illness.
Flu Shot Side Effects
CDC note that the flu vaccine has a good safety record, and it cannot cause flu.
A person may experience the following adverse effects after having a vaccine, but these will be mild and usually pass within a few days.
- pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site
- muscle aches
Around 12 people in every 1 million may develop a condition known as Guillain-Barr syndrome . However, people can also develop GBS after having flu, and the risk of this is higher than with the vaccine. The risk of developing GBS may be lower with the nasal spray version of the vaccine.
If someone experiences hives, swelling, and difficulty breathing after any vaccine, they should seek immediate medical help as these may be the sign of an allergic reaction. A severe reaction is known as anaphylaxis, which can be life threatening.
how to recognize anaphylaxis and what to do if it happens.
People who have previously had an allergic reaction to a vaccine should not have the flu shot.
Is the flu shot safe? Find out here.
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Groups Who Should Especially Get The Vaccine
The flu shot can protect you against the flu. Because of this, it can reduce your chances of being infected with COVID-19 and the flu at the same time. This can lead to serious complications. You should especially receive the flu vaccine this season if youre:
- at high risk of severe COVID-19 related illness
- capable of spreading the flu to those at high risk of severe illness related to COVID-19
The flu vaccine is especially important for the following groups.
What Are The Available Monkeypox Vaccines
Two vaccines are currently approved in the U.S. that can provide protection against monkeypox, the Jynneos vaccine known as Imvamune/Imvanex in Europe and ACAM2000, an older smallpox vaccine.
The Jynneos vaccine is produced by Bavarian Nordic, a small company in Denmark. The vaccine is for the prevention of smallpox and monkeypox disease in adults ages 18 and older who are at high risk for infection with either virus. It was approved in Europe in 2013 and by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2019.
The Jynneos vaccine is given in two doses four weeks apart and contains a live vaccinia virus. Vaccinia normally infects cattle and is a type of poxvirus, a family of viruses that includes smallpox and monkeypox. The virus in this vaccine has been crippled or attenuated so that it is no longer able to replicate in cells.
This vaccine is good at protecting those who are at high risk for monkeypox from getting infected before exposure and can also lessen the severity of disease post-infection. It is effective against smallpox as well as monkeypox. Until the recent monkeypox outbreak, this vaccine was primarily given to health care workers or people who have had confirmed or suspected monkeypox exposure.
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How Can I Avoid Getting Influenza
Getting an influenza vaccine every year is recommended for everyone aged 6 months or older. People in the above groups are eligible for free flu vaccination each year under the National Immunisation Program.
While not 100% effective, the flu vaccine provides a high level of protection and can reduce symptoms in those still getting sick.
can be co-administered with a flu vaccine. There is no requirement for a time interval between these vaccines.
Wearing a face mask and practicing good hand hygiene can help to reduce your chances of catching the flu or passing it on to others.