Monkeypox virus not an immediate concern for now, medical experts say

Published 1:00 am Saturday, June 4, 2022

By Chase Davis

Georgia public health officials are working to confirm the state’s first case of a rare monkeypox virus, a virus not typically seen outside of western and Central Africa. The Georgia patient is a male resident from Metro Atlanta and has a history of international travel.

The CDC is currently conducting confirmatory testing to determine if this Georgia case is, in fact, the monkeypox virus. The Department of Health is also conducting contact tracing and will continue to monitor the man and his symptoms.

According to Dr. Kenneth Horlander, a physician at Emory Healthcare in LaGrange, this case is no reason for major concern amongst local citizens.

“It is still a very rare virus,” Horlander said.

Monkeypox, a member of the Orthopoxvirus genus, typically begins with a flu-like illness and swelling of the lymph nodes, followed by a rash on the face and body.

The virus comes from the same family of viruses like smallpox. Most people recover from monkeypox within weeks, but the disease is fatal for up to 1 in 10 people, according to the World Health Organization.

In Africa, people have been reportedly infected with monkeypox through rodent and small animal bites. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus may also spread through direct contact with body fluids or sores on an infected person or with materials that have touched body fluids or sores.

Furthermore, monkeypox is much more stable than the ever-changing COVID-19, making it far less effective at mutating. It also doesn’t spread through the air like COVID-19 and isn’t contagious until the infected person becomes symptomatic. That makes it much easier to isolate infected individuals and prevent the spread. For those concerned about monkeypox, or to anyone who may have an unidentifiable rash, the CDC recommends contacting their local health care provider as soon as possible.