By Hilary Stempel, MD, MPH ~ August 22, 2022
What child hasn’t had a rash that made a parent scratch their head? Enter all the recent buzz about monkeypox, and it’s understandable that parents may be concerned.
But, what is monkeypox? And is it serious for children?
Learn more about monkeypox–and why parents don’t need to add it to their current list of worries.
The monkeypox virus was first found in 1958 in monkeys kept for research. The name came from the rash it caused on these monkeys. The first human case was found in 1970. Since spring of 2022, there have been many cases of monkeypox in adults across the world. However, very few monkeypox illnesses have been reported in children.
To understand more about monkeypox, it’s important to know how it spreads to people. Fortunately, the way a person becomes infected with monkeypox is very different from COVID-19, and this makes it less contagious for most people.
Close skin-to-skin contact with a person with monkeypox
Touching objects, fabrics (bedding, clothing, or towels), or surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox
Contacting respiratory droplets during long, close face-to-face contact with a person who has monkeypox. (Unlike COVID, monkeypox is not spread by brief conversations with someone with the illness.)
Hugging, kissing, or sex with a person with monkeypox
Bites or scratches from an infected animal
Before the rash appears, people may have these symptoms:
Swollen lymph nodes
Cough, sore throat, and nasal congestion
Vaccines are available for monkeypox and can be given to children. At this point, if a child has a close exposure to someone with monkeypox, it could be helpful for them to receive the vaccine. Your pediatrician can help decide if this is needed.
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