(Baptist Health) – Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) are closely monitoring an outbreak of monkeypox that has spread across several countries, including the U.S. Cases of the virus have been confirmed in Arkansas, so it’s important to be proactive and know what to watch for in order to stay healthy.

How does monkeypox spread?

Monkeypox is not known to spread through casual, brief interactions with others. Rather, the virus can be transmitted to anyone regardless of their age, gender, sexual orientation, race, and ethnicity through:

  • Direct contact with an infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids.
  • Extended close or intimate contact (more than four hours) with respiratory droplets from an infected person.
  • Touching objects such as clothes, sheets, blankets, or other materials that have been in contact with rashes or body fluids of an infected person.

An infected pregnant woman can additionally spread the monkeypox virus to a fetus.

What symptoms should I watch for?

People with monkeypox get a rash or sores that could be located on or near the genitals as well as on other areas such as the hands, feet, chest, face or mouth, according to the CDC. The rash/sores can initially look like pimples or blisters, and may be painful or itchy.

Symptoms of the monkeypox virus typically last up to two weeks and may also include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backaches
  • Chills
  • Tiredness
  • Swollen lymph nodes

If I suspect that I may have monkeypox, how can I get tested?

If you have any symptoms of monkeypox, talk to your healthcare provider – even if you don’t think you had contact with someone who has monkeypox. If you do not have a healthcare provider, ADH encourages Arkansas residents to call its hotline at 1-800-803-7847.

Who is eligible for the monkeypox vaccine and where is it available?

Two vaccines are currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for preventing monkeypox. You are eligible if they meet any of the following criteria:

  • People who have been identified by public health officials as a contact of someone with monkeypox.
  • People who are aware that one of their sexual partners in the past two weeks has been diagnosed with monkeypox.
  • People who had multiple sexual partners in the past two weeks

To locate a monkeypox vaccine clinic near you in the state, visit the Arkansas Department of Health website.

Are there treatments for monkeypox?

According to ADH, there is no treatment explicitly approved for monkeypox virus infections. However, antivirals developed for use in patients with smallpox may prove beneficial against monkeypox. Speak with your healthcare provider about your options.

For the latest information on the monkeypox outbreak, including regularly updated case counts/maps, visit the Arkansas Department of Health website or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.