VIK RAJAN, M.D.
ER Doctor and Director of Utilization Review and
Medical Services at Emergency Hospital Systems.
Dr. Vik Rajan is board certified in internal medicine,
pediatrics, nephrology, and integrative medicine
(ABPS). He also serves as a patient advocate and
integrative holistic concierge doctor for his private
patients with a focus on quality of care.
For more information, contact Dr. Rajan at:
As monkeypox cases are on the rise, it’s important to stay informed about the latest developments of this disease. With more than 7000 known cases of monkeypox reported in the US, including over 600 in Texas as of Aug 5, 2022, the federal government recently declared this outbreak as a nationwide health emergency.
The CDC is urging healthcare providers in the United States to be vigilant for patients being treated with illnesses associated with a rash. We believe that “to be aware is to be prepared”.
In this article, we talk to Dr. Vik Rajan, an ER doctor and Director of Utilization Review and Medical Services at Emergency Hospital Systems, about what everyone needs to know about monkeypox.
What is monkeypox and how serious is the disease?
Monkeypox is an infectious disease caused by the Poxvirus. The virus is in the same family as the smallpox virus. However, both viruses are different and not related.
Monkeypox is not as contagious or fatal as smallpox or COVID-19. According to the CDC, out of over 7000 cases in the US, no deaths have been recorded so far. However, the disease can be very painful and disruptive and could be more serious or deadly for people with weakened immune systems, people with preexisting skin diseases, children under 8 years old, or pregnant women.
What are the symptoms of monkeypox and how long do they last? What should you do if you have any symptoms?
The disease is associated with a rash that leads to blisters or pimple-like lesions over several days, typically located on the face, palms, and soles of the feet, but also potentially in the mouth, eyes, genitals, or anal region.
The lesions eventually crust and dry up and fall off over a couple of weeks.
Other symptoms include fever, chills, headache, swollen lymph nodes, back pain, body aches, and fatigue, which can occur several days before the rash, after the rash, or not at all. The overall length of illness can be between 2 and 4 weeks.
It is recommended that you seek medical attention if you have any symptoms of monkeypox, even if you think you have not had any contact with someone who has monkeypox.
How is the disease transmitted? Who is most at risk?
According to the CDC, the virus can spread in different ways. One way is person-to-person through contact with infectious sores and body fluids. The disease can also spread by respiratory droplets during close face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical skin-to-skin contact, such as during sex. In addition, pregnant women can spread the virus to their babies through the placenta. Additionally, people can contract the infection by touching linens or bedding items that have been in contact with the skin lesions or body fluids of a patient with monkeypox. Also infected animals can spread the virus to humans. It takes anywhere from 4 to 21 days from exposure to develop symptoms.
Currently, the most frequent form of transmission has been by men who have sex with other men (around 98 percent of cases in the world correspond to this form of transmission). However, the virus is not limited to this group and can spread to other groups as well.
Is there any treatment for monkeypox?
Most cases resolve without any treatment, but patients with severe disease or at risk for severe disease can be treated with certain antiviral medications that were originally developed for smallpox.
Is there a vaccine to prevent monkeypox?
Yes. Currently the vaccine that is being used to prevent monkeypox is the same as the vaccine used against smallpox. People can be vaccinated following exposure to monkeypox. However, as of now, there is currently a limited supply of monkeypox vaccines in the US. It is expected that more vaccines will become available in the following weeks and months.
Who should be vaccinated?
Currently the CDC recommends vaccination for people who have been in close contact with people who have monkeypox and people who are at elevated risk of being exposed to monkeypox. Also, the CDC is recommending the vaccine for healthcare workers, laboratory personnel, and public health workers who have been or are highly likely to be exposed to the virus.
It is important to note that the CDC is not recommending widespread vaccination against monkeypox currently. It is better to talk to a health care provider if you think you have been exposed to the virus.
How to prevent exposure to monkeypox?
There are several steps that people can take to reduce the risk of being infected with monkeypox. CDC recommendations to reduce the risk of monkeypox include:
- Avoid close contact with someone who has monkeypox
- Avoid touching the rash or sores of someone with monkeypox.
- Avoid having sex with someone who has monkeypox.
- Avoid handling or touching the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
- Avoid sharing eating utensils or cups with someone who has monkeypox.
Additionally, it is recommended to use disposable gloves, gown, face mask (N95 preferred), and face shield if interacting with someone with monkeypox or handling their bedding, towels, or clothing.
For more information on monkeypox visit the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention website at: https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/about.html
Check the following website for more current data on monkeypox cases in the US: