PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — More than 100 cases of a rare infectious disease called monkeypox have been identified around the world, but a local infectious disease doctor said there is no need to panic.
Dr. Abeer AlMajali, an infectious disease physician at OSF Healthcare and the University of Illinois College of Medicine, said monkeypox is not a new disease and the medical community has the necessary tools in place already.
“Yeah, there’s so much pandemic fatigue and I know that a lot of people, when they heard that this is like, no, not again, not another one. But I mean this one is very different, and I will say you know, on top of it being different, on top of it being a virus that’s already known. We are also much well, much better prepared,” she said.
Monkeypox has been around since at least the 1950s. It is a zoonotic disease, transmitted from animals to humans, and in the smallpox family.
AlMajali said monkeypox is a “self-limiting infection,” which means it usually resolves on its own without medical intervention.
“They will have the typical symptoms which initially will include just fever, feeling unwell, the back pain, lymph nodes showing up and the rash, and then within two to four weeks people will just go back to normal,” she explained.
AlMajali said monkeypox cases are very rare and limited primarily to travelers returning from Central or West Africa. But there are some unresolved questions.
“It’s not usually found, and we’re not still entirely sure what is the mode of transmission. Is it this very close contact that’s happening, especially that you know there are cases in Europe there was the case in the US.,” she said.
Severe cases requiring medical intervention are usually seen in immunocompromised people. AlMajali said in those cases, the smallpox vaccine and/or antivirals will help resolve the infection.