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Medical Experts Weigh in on Monkeypox

  • Category: Safety
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Medical Experts Weigh in on Monkeypox

As the world contends with the COVID-19 pandemic, news is breaking of a Monkeypox outbreak. For many people, this news conjures memories of the uncertainty faced at the beginning of coronavirus pandemic. Health officials are investigating the Monkeypox outbreak to determine if the virus acquired a mutation that makes it more transmissible or if superspreader events in Europe may be to blame for the current outbreak.

“At this point, there’s nothing the general public needs to do. There are 8 total cases in the United States. Previous outbreaks of Monkeypox in the U.S. came as quickly as they went. It did not gain a foothold in the U.S.” says Dr. Joshua Deere, chief medical officer. “The initial news of the outbreak was alarming. I’m hoping to ease concerns about monkeypox.”

Monkeypox can be fatal, however the infection is normally mild and clears up after a few weeks for most people, says Dr. Richard Kennedy, co-director of Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group. He says the overall risk for the public is low, and it's not something people should be too concerned about at this time.

"This is a larger outbreak, both in terms of case numbers and the geographic spread. Now we're trying to figure out if there is something new with the virus. It's a DNA virus, so it doesn't mutate as fast as RNA viruses, like influenza and SARS-CoV-2. But DNA viruses do change," says Dr. Kennedy.

Vaccines can prevent monkeypox infection, and treatments are available for those who are exposed or become infected. Smallpox vaccines effectively prevent monkeypox if given before or within a few days of infection.

“The key takeaway message is we really have very little to be worried about. Monkeypox is a viral infection that’s transmitted by physical contact with open lesions,” explains Dr. Deere. “It’s endemic in certain countries in Africa. There’s a pretty large outbreak in Europe right now centered around sexual activity. As clinicians, we are being diligent. If we see a rash, we’re going to take a patient’s history into account.”

Talk with your primary care provider about staying up to date on all your vaccinations.


As a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, Altru Health System has access to Mayo Clinic knowledge, resources and expertise.