LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – There is growing concern from world health leaders tonight about a rare virus spreading through 12 European countries. It’s called monkeypox and it was recently found in Boston with cases also suspected in at least one other state.
Experts say the disease is more than 60 years old. It’s typically seen in African countries and found in wild animals like rodents and monkeys. That’s why doctors say this is something that’s extremely rare here in the United States.
“This outbreak is unusual in the sense that it’s much more widespread and obviously it’s had a lot more human-to-human spread that we typically didn’t see before with monkeypox,” said Infectious Disease Specialist at Henry Ford Allegiance Health, Dr. Vivek KaK.
He says similar to other viruses like chickenpox, monkeypox spreads very easily.
“You can spread it through touch, through coughing and also as the scabs fall off you can spread from contact from any of those scabs,” said Vivek.
Scabs that Michigan health expert Dr. Michael Zaroukian at Sparrow Hospital says comes from a severe rash.
“It’s a characteristic rash that actually resembles something seen in my childhood and earlier which is smallpox, so it’s a rash that often starts on the trunk and spreads to the extremities and unlike almost like all other infections it can involve the palms and the soles,” said Dr. Zaroukian.
Other symptoms include fever, headache, swelling and fatigue. The World Health Organization says there are more than 90 confirmed cases around the globe. Doctors believe it’s likely that the outbreak in Europe started through close contact at large parties.
The good news is even if it does spread to Michigan it’s easily treatable. The smallpox vaccine helps prevent it and it’s treatable with anti-viral medications.
“If you have a rash you shouldn’t go around, but in terms of the scheme of things of how common it is I think it’s still not very common and I wouldn’t worry too much about it and I think it’s something to keep an eye on, but it’s not a disease that is terribly fatal,” said Dr. Kak.
Doctors say the fatality rate is between one and three percent, and experts say while they do expect to see an uptick in cases in the coming weeks, they believe the virus should run it’s course by late summer.