February 9, 2023

Monkeypox: who can be infected?

Read Time:2 Minute, 45 Second


(CNN Spanish) — Monkeypox or monkeypox is the disease that has recently sounded alarm bells worldwide due to its rapid spread today.

On Saturday, July 23, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. The WHO defines a public health emergency of international concern as “an extraordinary event” that constitutes a “public health risk to other states through the international spread of disease” and “potentially requires a coordinated international response”.

The WHO also noted that the vast majority of cases in the current monkeypox outbreak have been among men who have sex with men. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated the same for the case of the United States.

Does that mean that this disease can only hit men? Short answer: NO. And here we explain why.

How to avoid contagion of monkeypox 0:36

Who can get monkeypox?

Until now, according to what the WHO and the CDC have said, homosexual and bisexual people and, in general, men who have sex with other men are within the group with the highest risk because that is where the most cases have been registered.

However, this does not exempt other people from being infected with the disease.

Some infectious disease experts believe that focusing on the most affected population may lead doctors to rule out signs of monkeypox in other people, so they urge looking for cases beyond this sector.

This means that, although the cases are concentrated in a part of the population, all people are exposed to monkeypox.

For example, there have been cases in children who were probably infected at home. It is also known that pregnant women can infect their babies in the womb, as monkeypox can cross the placenta during pregnancy.

How is it spread?

Monkeypox is transmitted primarily through prolonged and direct skin-to-skin contact. Although most cases so far have been linked to sexual activity, it is not considered a sexually transmitted infection.

Therefore, in addition to sexual intercourse, people can spread monkeypox through intimate contact such as kissing, hugging, and cuddling.

So, for example, if a person has the disease (and does not know it) and shows normal signs of affection to his family, there is a probability of contagion.

Also, says the WHOmonkeypox can also be transmitted by contact with skin lesions caused by the disease, with body fluids and with contaminated materials such as bedding or clothing.

There is also contagion through respiratory droplets, but “it usually requires prolonged face-to-face contact,” adds the WHO. This “increases the risk to healthcare professionals, household members, and other close contacts of active cases.”

Additional important points about contagion:

  • The incubation period—that is, the time from when a person is infected until they have symptoms—for monkeypox is usually 7 to 14 days, but can range from 5 to 21 days, report the CDC.
  • The illness usually lasts between 2 and 4 weeks.
  • people with the disease they are contagious while they have symptoms; that is, between the 2 and 4 weeks that monkeypox lasts.

With information from Brenda Goodman, Carma Hassan, Carolyn Sung, John Bonifield, Michael Nedelman, Martin Goillandeau, Katia Hetter, and Jen Christensen.



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