Monkeypox, caused by a virus, is spreading around the world. So far, there are more than 6,300 known cases In the US, it’s almost entirely gay and bisexual men. New York, California, Illinois and some cities with declare a state of emergencyaccording to the World Health Organization own statement global emergency.
The headlines are grim enough that you might worry that monkeypox is like SARS or Covid: another virus that could disrupt or even threaten your life. The good news is that monkeypox is much less contagious and less deadly than Covid. There are also vaccines and treatments originally developed for smallpox that work on monkeypox.
But while monkeypox probably won’t kill you, it can be so painful you want to avoid it: It can cause pain which some patients compare to shards of glass scraped against the skin. And while the virus is currently spreading to mostly gay and bisexual men, that could change if it continues to spread unchecked. There is nothing about the virus that limits its spread to only men who have sex with men (not all of these men identify as gay or bisexual).
Today’s newsletter explains what we know about monkeypox and what people can do to stay safe.
What’s the truth?
Monkeypox causes symptoms that can range from unpleasant to painful, although they are rarely fatal. At least six deaths, out of 25,000, have been reported in places where the virus is not known to exist prior to the current outbreak. The risk of death is higher for young children and those who are immunocompromised or pregnant.
The telltale symptom are sores, which can look like pimples or blisters. They can hurt, especially in sensitive areas like the genitals and anus.
“I’m scared to use the bathroom,” said one recent monkeypox patient, Gabriel Morales, told The Times. He described the sores as feeling like “shards of broken glass” in the body.
Other symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion. The illness usually lasts two to four weeks.
How does it spread?
Smallpox in monkeys is primarily spread through close physical contact, typically skin-to-skin contact. Most infections in the current outbreak have occurred through close sexual contact. The virus can also spread through contaminated surfaces, including clothing and bedding. Brief contact, such as shaking hands, is usually not enough to spread smallpox in monkeys. Unlike Covid, it doesn’t seem to spread much through the air.
Nearly half of all known cases in the United States have occurred in the first three states to declare a state of emergency: New York, California, and Illinois.
To date, about 98% of cases worldwide have been in men who have sex with men. Many of them had multiple sexual partners, sometimes strangers. Some super first events are gay parties in Europeappeared to introduce the virus into the social networks of men who have sex with men.
Public health officer fought by acknowledging some of these factors, fearing that they might discriminate against gay and bisexual men. But part of the appropriate public health response is targeting the most at-risk people and the riskiest activities, and that requires an honest assessment of what’s going on.
What can you do?
Most people are not currently at risk for serious monkeypox, with the virus concentrated in gay and bisexual men. “Your risk depends on who you are,” my colleague Apoorva Mandavilli, who has defended the current outbreak since the first US case was identified, told me.
To reduce their risk, gay and bisexual men can try to make sure their male partners don’t get monkeypox, just in case of sores. They can use condoms, which can at least reduce the risk of sores in sensitive areas. They can temporary reduction their number of sexual partners or avoid riskier activities, such as sex parties and anonymous sex. Practicing good hygiene, such as washing your hands often, can also help.
Vaccines and tests for monkeypox are also available, although they are not yet widely available because of short supply and strict government regulations on access.
If someone is infected, CDC suggestions Isolate at home and stay away from others if possible. But that can be very difficult with an illness that can last four weeks – another reason to prioritize prevention and slow the spread.
What are the officials doing?
Public health officials are trying to make vaccines, treatments and tests more readily available. President Biden yesterday Named National Monkeypox Response Coordinator to monitor those efforts.
But progress is very slow. When monkeypox spread in May and June, 300,000 doses of vaccine were owned by the US sitting in Denmark.
Officials are also trying to raise public awareness about monkeypox, as it is a new virus to most Americans.
Their main goal now is to avoid a broader outbreak that makes monkeypox an endemic virus that spreads frequently across the United States, much like the flu. Dr Céline Gounder, a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said that if monkeypox continues to spread unchecked, it could eventually spread to a wider population of men. duality and duality.
“It’s still holdable,” she added. “But it will require more aggressive screening, testing and vaccination.”
Monkeypox is not usually fatal, but it can still cause painful illness and permanent scarring. The risk isn’t high for most people right now, but that could change if the virus continues to spread. And those at serious risk can take steps to stay safe and prevent the outbreak from getting worse.
Sprinkle some pickles
That is summer of pickles. Not the actual pickles – although they are as popular as ever – but the flavor, which is ubiquitous, Christina Morales writes.
Pickle seasoning adds a sweet-and-sour flavor that complements snacks like popcorn and pizza. Frito-Lay currently makes Lays, Doritos and Ruffles pickle fries. Trader Joe’s says its dill pickle spice mix sold out shortly after it hit shelves in May.
Social media has helped drive the flavor’s popularity. Meg and Maddie Antonelli, the TikTok mother-daughter duo, make pickle pizza at home, dip pickles in burgers, and combine pasta with dill pickle seasoning. “I wish this was always trendy,” says Meg Antonelli, “because I love pickles.”