Monkeypox: A Renown Expert Weighs In

By: Renown Wellness Team

August 09, 2022

Blood sample tube positive with Monkeypox virus, new epidemic disease in 2022

Renown Health is closely following the national outbreak of the monkeypox virus and urging healthcare providers to be alert for patients with illnesses associated with a rash. In working with the Washoe County Health District (WCHD), Renown is closely monitoring the spread of monkeypox in the community and looking to prevent and reduce the spread of monkeypox.

To help to ease worries, we consulted with Paul De Leon, Infection Preventionist at Renown Health.

What Exactly is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare viral illness caused by the monkeypox virus — the same family of viruses that causes Smallpox. Although symptoms are similar to Smallpox, monkeypox symptoms are milder and rarely fatal. However, it's important to mention that this virus can be more severe for these susceptible groups:

  • Immunocompromised
  • Pregnant women
  • A fetus or newborn baby
  • Women who are breastfeeding
  • Young children
  • Those with severe skin diseases such as eczema

How is Monkeypox Transmitted?

The monkeypox virus is not easily transmitted but occurs through sustained person to person close contact with an infected individual. Monkeypox can also be transmitted through direct contact with infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids. Monkeypox can also be spread through prolonged intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling or sex. Lastly, monkeypox can be spread through contaminated linens or bedding. Transmission through respiratory secretions is uncommon but has been reported after prolonged face-to-face contact with symptomatic individuals. In addition, pregnant women can spread the virus to their fetuses through the placenta.

Monkeypox Testing

If you think you have monkeypox, contact your primary care physician or other medical providers to obtain testing. Notify the provider ahead of time before entering the physical office.

Signs & Symptoms

This current outbreak of West African monkeypox does not have the typical presentation of classic monkeypox. Symptoms usually appear one to three weeks after infection and include:

  • Pimple-like rash or blisters on the face, inside the mouth, and on other areas of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.
  • The rash will go through serval stages, including scabs, before healing and may be painful or itchy.

Other symptoms of monkeypox can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • Respiratory symptoms such as sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough
Symptoms of monkeypox may occur before or after a rash with some individuals only report experience a rash. Individuals with monkeypox are infectious once symptoms begin and remain infectious until lesions form scabs, scabs fall off, and a fresh layer of skin forms. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.

How to Protect Yourself

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people with a rash that looks like monkeypox.
    • Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.
    • Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
  • Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used.
    • Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox.
    • Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after you use the bathroom.
  • 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.

Is There a Vaccine for Monkeypox?

The CDC and WCHD both state: "Because monkeypox and smallpox viruses are genetically similar, vaccines developed to protect against smallpox viruses may be used to prevent monkeypox infections."

  • State and federal officials provide shipments of Monkeypox vaccines, the distribution of these vaccines is coordinated through WCHD. WCHD has no control over vaccine shipments or availability and are extremely limited therefore, these vaccines are unavailable to the general public.
  • Currently, vaccines are available only for confirmed high risk close contacts to a known Monkeypox case and only WCHD can provide vaccines at this time.

Renown Health continues to monitor the Monkeypox virus and ensure constant readiness by working closely with the Washoe County Health Department and staying informed of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updates. In addition, when there is heightened concern around an illness, we implement enhanced infection prevention strategies and ensure we are ready with the appropriate supplies and alternate plans should the need arise.


Learn more by visiting the Washoe County Health Department
Questions? Please email:
Watch the August 5 town hall regarding Monkeypox

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