With only a handful of pediatric cases in the country and 70+ total cases in the state of Ohio, monkeypox shouldn’t be of great concern to parents. Yet, parents have questions and understandably so.
Dr. Evelyn Scott Pangonis, medical director of infection control and prevention at Akron Children’s, answers some of the more common questions parents are having right now.
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a virus in the same family as smallpox. While monkeypox has typically been seen in central and west African countries, an outbreak of the virus is currently circulating in several other countries, including the United States.
What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
Symptoms usually begin 1-2 weeks after exposure and include:
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, or groin
Following these initial symptoms, a rash appears on the face, arms and legs and spreads to the rest of the body. This rash progresses from flat, red spots, to raised blisters that crust over. The rash usually lasts from 2-4 weeks.
How is monkeypox spread?
This is an illness that requires close, prolonged contact with someone with an active disease. According to the CDC, 94% of cases occur in men who have had sex with men, although this infection is not exclusive to the LBGTQ+ community. Someone with monkeypox remains contagious until their scabs fall off and new skin has formed. Another way the virus can spread is by touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that were in contact with fluid from a lesion. It can also spread from contact with respiratory secretions or transferred through the placenta of a pregnant mom to a fetus.
As a parent, should I be concerned about sending my child to school in the fall?
Because of how monkeypox is spread, contracting the virus at school is unlikely.
How is monkeypox treated?
Treatment is available for children less than 8 years of age, those with compromised immune systems, children with certain skin disorders, those who have lesions on certain body areas (eyes, mouth, genitalia, or anus) and those with complications from monkeypox. This treatment is only available through the CDC, and your healthcare provider will have to acquire this medication through the CDC.
If someone in my home is suspected or confirmed of having monkeypox, what should I do?
If you’re concerned about whether or not your child has monkeypox, contact your pediatrician immediately. Your pediatrician will help differentiate your symptoms from those due to more common rashes (allergic rashes and those caused by other viruses and bacteria). Until monkeypox has been excluded by history or testing, other precautions recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics include:
- Children with or suspected of having monkeypox should cover their skin lesions.
- Parents/caregivers should encourage children not to scratch skin lesions or touch their eyes.
- Children with or suspected of having monkeypox should avoid contact with other people and pets. If possible, one person should be the caregiver of a child with or suspected of having monkeypox and should avoid skin-to-skin contact with the rash.
- Children who are at least 2 years of age who have or suspected of having monkeypox should wear a well-fitting mask when interacting with a caregiver, and the caregiver should wear a respirator or well-fitting mask and gloves when skin contact with the child may occur, and when handling bandages or clothing.
If you have additional questions, please contact your pediatrician.