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Will monkeypox be the next COVID? An NYC doctor weighs in. – SILive.com


Monkeypox causes lesions that resemble pus-filled blisters, which eventually scab over. (CDC/Getty Images)
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — There’s no need for panic or paranoia, but if you develop symptoms similar to those of monkeypox, don’t ignore them.
That’s the advice of one of Staten Island’s top global health specialists, who said he doesn’t expect a large monkeypox outbreak in the United States, but anyone noticing a rash and a fever should seek virtual medical care early or visit an emergency room.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated it believes there are five cases of monkeypox in the nation so far, including one case in New York City.
But the virus, which early on produces a bumpy rash that resembles the chickenpox, “does not have the same transmissibility as COVID or the flu,’’ said Dr. Eric Cioe-Pena, director of global health at Staten Island University Hospital.
“The majority of transmission of monkeypox is through direct contact with lesions, blood or bodily fluids,’’ he said, noting that those most vulnerable are age 5 and under. “This is not going to go the way COVID did. It’s much less transmissible.’’
Monkeypox is rare in the United States, according to the CDC, because it doesn’t occur naturally here. Any confirmed cases in the country are typically associated with international travel or animal imports from areas where the disease is more common.
On Staten Island, several urgent care and doctor’s offices have posted signs asking patients with a rash, or a rash accompanied by a fever, to remain outside for an initial evaluation before entering the facility.
Cioe-Pena said he thinks this precaution is wise.
“I think the most important thing is, if you have a fever and a rash, seek out health care early,’’ he said. “Don’t assume it’s the chickenpox. And if you have a child who somehow gets diagnosed with monkeypox, don’t touch the rash. Try to keep them isolated, but it’s much easier to contain this than the flu or COVID.”
The virus is most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, and the 10% death rate associated with monkeypox is misleading to residents of the United States, he said.
“That’s in countries that don’t have great intensive care,’’ he said. “I don’t believe we will have an outbreak, but (the death rate) would be less in the United States.’’
Caring for a child who does develop the virus is much less risky than caring for a COVID patient, Cioe-Pena said.
“If you wore gloves while taking care of the person and a mask, you’ve got almost a zero percent chance of catching it,’’ he said.
The monkeypox rash is most prevalent on the face, arms, legs, hands and feet, the doctor said. “It moves onto the trunk of the body later on,” he added.
The bumps will fill with fluid, rupture and will eventually scab over, he said.
And while he stressed he doesn’t predict an outbreak in the United States, Cioe Pena did urge Staten Islanders to err on the side of caution if they notice a fever and a rash, especially on children ages 5 and under.
“Fever and rash are good enough to warrant a virtual visit to a health-care provider,’’ he said..
According to the CDC, the disease was first discovered in 1958, when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research.
The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo during a period of intensified effort to eliminate smallpox. Since then, monkeypox has been reported in humans in other central and western African countries.
In people, the symptoms of monkeypox are similar to, but milder than the symptoms of smallpox, the CDC said. Monkeypox begins with fever, headache, muscle aches and exhaustion.
Lymph nodes will then begin to swell, and within one to three days after the appearance of fever, the patient develops a rash, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body.
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I am Zeba Anwer, a content writer who is still learning to make herself familiar with the world of technology. I am a writer by day and a reader by night who is still looking to make her footprint in the world of media.