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Monkey and Child Smallpox: How Risky Are They?

As if a global pandemic wasn’t enough to worry about, the Biden administration has officially declared monkeypox national health emergency on Thursday. To date, there are 7,102 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What does this mean for parents? Well, there’s no need to panic. We spoke to a doctor to learn more.

“Compared to COVID 19 and other childhood viruses, like influenza and RSV [respiratory syncytial virus]Smallpox in monkeys is not transmitted from person to person very easily,” said Dr. Larry Kociolek, medical director of infection, prevention and control and care physician in infectious diseases at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. “Currently, there are 10 child cases globally and two reported in the US”

What is monkeypox and what are the symptoms in children?

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus. In general, monkeypox presents similarly in adults as it does in children – with fever, swollen lymph nodes, and skin lesions all over the body. The rash is the most common symptom of monkeypox and can look similar to other rashes commonly seen in children.

Symptoms usually begin within three weeks of exposure, and illness usually lasts two to four weeks. Most cases are mild and do not require hospitalization, but severe cases can occur in people with weakened immune systems.

How is smallpox transmitted in monkeys?

The easiest way to transmit monkeypox is by direct contact with damaged skin. “The disease is not transmitted by casual contact,” Kociolek said, adding that the disease is not easily shared by touching common household items, such as doorknobs and handles. “You won’t get monkeypox from brief direct contact with people who have monkeypox, you’ll get it through really prolonged close contact with someone who’s sick.”

If I have monkeypox, how can I prevent it from being passed on to my baby?

The preventive measures for monkeypox are similar to those you would do for other common infections: stay home when sick, avoid contact with other sick people, and frequently wash your hands with soap and water. soap and water for 20 seconds, especially before eating.

If you suspect you may have monkeypox, it’s important to contact your doctor right away.

“The test is much more ready now than it was a month ago,” said Kociolek. “If you suspect or have been told that you have monkeypox, the most important way to prevent the disease from spreading is by covering skin lesions and not sharing items that have come into contact with the lesions. skin with others, such as sheets, towels, and clothing. “

Although it is believed that monkeypox is not as easily spread by respiratory droplets as COVID-19, it can still happen, so if you are infected, it is important to wear a mask and keep social distance from others. other individuals in the family. That being said, the recommended quarantine for monkeypox lasts much longer than for other viruses.

“You can transmit smallpox to monkeys as long as there are skin lesions, which can last up to four weeks,” explains Kociolek.

What are the risks to my child?

“The chances of anyone having monkeypox are extremely low right now,” says Kociolek. “So the majority of rashes in children are caused by other infectious or non-infectious causes.”

However, if you have reason to believe that your child has been exposed or is developing a rash corresponding to monkeypox, you should contact your pediatrician for further instructions and to take precautions. infect others.

Are some children at higher risk?

Follow American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), certain children, including infants, children under 8 years of age, and people with skin conditions, such as eczema, and people who are immunocompromised, may be at increased risk. seriously ill if they contract smallpox in monkeys.

Are there any treatments or vaccines?

Yes, for children with severe monkeypox, or those at risk of severe illness, treatment is available. “Tecovirimat is a first-line treatment and is being used under an investigative process,” according to the AAP. “CDC recently streamlined the process to get it. It is available in both oral and intravenous forms”.

While currently there is no monkeypox vaccine Available to all children, the JYNNEOS vaccine may be recommended for children under 18 years of age who have been exposed to monkeypox.

How worried should I be about my child getting monkeypox?

“Right now, the concern is exponentially higher than the risk,” said Kociolek. “People have to be extremely vigilant right now about these emerging diseases caused by the COVID pandemic and there is also a lot of media attention around monkeypox. But in reality, the risk to a child is extremely low. “

For comparison, there are 10 cases of monkeypox in children worldwide, while hand, foot and mouth disease, which is more common in children under 5 years of age, is caused by enterovirusof which about 15 million cases are reported in the US each year.

“And that’s just one of the hundreds of causes of childhood rashes,” says Kociolek. “Just to put it into perspective.”

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