By: Dr. Eric Levene, Chester Pediatrics
While we are still dealing with the COVID pandemic, we are now also hearing about new infectious diseases. The disease we are currently hearing about in the news is Monkeypox. So, what do parents need to know about monkeypox?
First, let’s look at the numbers. Currently, there are about 11,000 confirmed cases in the United States. Compare that with approximately 100,000 reported COVID cases daily. Should you be aware? Yes. But should you panic? No.
What are the symptoms of monkeypox? Like in adults, the most common sign of monkeypox in children and adolescents is a progressive rash that starts with flat or raised lesions and then becomes vesicles, pustules, and then scabs. During the current outbreak, systemic symptoms such as fever and lymphadenopathy (gland swelling) have not always occurred. Other symptoms may include fatigue and headache. Difficulty swallowing or coughing may occur when lesions are in the mouth. Eyelid swelling or eyelid crusting may occur when there are lesions near or in a patient’s eye. ( Clinical.) Monkeypox rash can be easily confused with other common rashes found in children.
How is monkeypox spread? Monkeypox is spread by close skin-to-skin contact. This is NOT limited to sexual contact and is not limited to one particular social group. Direct contact with the open lesion or touching fabrics (clothing, bedding, towels, etc.) of an infected person is how the disease spreads. It can also spread with prolonged face-to-face contact (spread by respiratory secretions).
The latest reports are now saying that humans can spread monkeypox to their pets, with at least one case reported of a dog getting it from its owner. There is no report of a pet giving the illness to the owner.
If you are sending your older kids off to college, this is one more thing to add to the safety speech. College campuses are a perfect storm for spreading infectious diseases, as we have seen with COVID. Close living conditions, college parties, and communal dining are just a few ways COVID and monkeypox can spread. Talk to your teen. Make sure they understand the illness and how it spreads.
If you think you have symptoms of monkeypox, call your trusted pediatrician. If they suspect it is monkeypox, they will take a skin swab of the lesion. Unfortunately, there is no rapid test, and the test takes a few days. Until the results are back, the patient should take precautions, cover the lesions, and wear a mask.
What about treatment/vaccination? There is no specific treatment or vaccine for monkeypox. Since monkeypox is very similar genetically to Smallpox, the treatment and vaccines for Smallpox are being used to treat monkeypox infections. One treatment, Tecovirimat (TPOXX), is being used for high-risk individuals.
There is currently no vaccine available for anyone under 18 years of age. The JYNNEOS vaccine, for adults, can be offered on a case-by-case basis for people under 18 years of age and ONLY with authorization from the FDA. Your pediatrician will not have the vaccine in their office.
Most people with monkeypox recover fully within 2-4 weeks without medical treatment.
For any questions, please reach out to your trusted Allied pediatrician.
Allied Physicians Group is a partnership of more than 150 dedicated, caring physicians and 350 highly trained support staff. Allied serves over 180,000 patients with offices throughout Greater New York City, Long Island, the Hudson Valley, and beyond. Founded in 2006, Allied Physicians Group is a recognized leader in increasing healthcare efficiencies and patient satisfaction, emphasizing support, innovation, and collaboration. If you are looking for a Pediatrician near you click here or for more information please visit https://alliedphysiciansgroup.com/.