What is hMPXV a.k.a “MonkeyPox”?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently identified two cases of monkeypox, also known as hMPXV, in children. According to the CDC, young children, children with eczema and other skin conditions, and children with immunocompromising conditions may be at increased risk of severe disease.
Here is some background information from the Oregon Health Authority:
The virus originally got its common name “monkeypox” after the first recognized outbreak was in monkeys in a Danish laboratory in 1958. hMPXV is the human version of the monkeypox virus. According to the World Health Organization, the term “monkeypox” has been criticized by scientists as being discriminatory and stigmatizing.
Is it similar to smallpox? It’s in the same group of viruses, but this isn’t smallpox. hMPXV is much harder to catch, and it is not as severe. There are two strains of this virus, and the main virus that is circulating now causes milder disease. Most people are recovering at home without any special treatment.
What are the symptoms? Illness typically starts with fever, headache, and muscle aches. This is followed in one to three days by a rash, often on the face, spreading to the limbs. The rash starts with flat patches that then form large, firm bumps, which then fill with fluid or pus. These bumps then scab and fall off, usually within two to four weeks.
Who is most at risk for hMPXV in the current outbreak? The current outbreak in the U.S. has high rates of known cases among gay and bisexual men and transgender and non-binary people who have traveled to countries with hMPXV cases or have had contact with someone else with hMPXV. However, this virus is not limited by gender or sexuality and can spread to anyone, anywhere through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact.
Should I vaccinate my children against it now? No. No vaccine is needed at this point. Vaccines would be used to protect people who have known exposure to someone ill with hMPXV infection. The vaccine works to prevent or decrease disease even after someone was exposed.
For the CDC’s guidance on hMPXV and children, visit https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/clinicians/pediatric.html