‘I don’t think that there is a concern:’ Doctors explain what monkeypox is
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - You’ve probably heard a little about the monkeypox recently but Baton Rouge area doctors say it’s nothing to panic over.
Dr. Aldo Russo, the Regional Medical Director of Ochsner Baton Rouge, said monkeypox is a viral disease that originated in monkeys and was discovered back in the late 1950s. It wasn’t until 1970 that the first case was reported in human beings.
“This is a virus that is transmitted through fluids or respiratory droplets, but you have to be in significant, lengthy contact with that person,” said Dr. Russo.
The illness is rarely seen outside parts of Africa, but there have been some cases popping up in other countries recently, including the United States.
“At this moment, I don’t think that there is a concern. If you know that you’re going to be exposed to somebody that’s coming from Central or Western Africa, the recommendation is, number one, use universal precautions,” said Dr. Russo.
It’s a virus found in wild animals like monkeys and rodents. When it infects people, they usually experience flu-like symptoms and a skin condition.
“The most prominent finding or symptom is those raised bumps or vesicles that happen in your skin all over your body,” said Dr. Russo.
There are no confirmed cases of monkeypox in Louisiana.
On Monday, May 23, officials with the Louisiana Department of Health gave health providers across the state more information about it.
“We established some criteria of what physicians should be on the lookout for, and then most importantly, we told clinicians what to do if they do have patients that they have concerns with,” said Dr. Joseph Kanter, the state health officer.
Dr. Kanter said monkeypox is in the same family as smallpox but much, much less severe.
“And while there’s been a handful of cases in the U.S. in the past 10 or 15 years, here’s the good news for you ... there’s been no fatalities in the U.S.,” he explained. “There have been fatalities in other countries, particularly countries that have less developed healthcare systems.”
Dr. Kanter added while it’s strange to have cases pop up worldwide. Monkeypox is extremely less infectious than COVID-19 and very rare to get.
“The name is scary for sure but when you get down to it, it’s not that severe of an illness. So, we have a lot of questions as to why this is happening and is there something unique about the strain that’s circulating now. But I don’t think there’s any alarm or cause of panic beyond that,” noted Dr. Kanter.
Dr. Russo said it’s best to wash your hands frequently. Also, be cautious if you’re interacting with anyone coming back from a trip to Africa at this time if they are experiencing any symptoms.
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