What Parents Need to Know About Monkeypox
In recent weeks the news has been buzzing about the new illness of the day, also known as “Monkeypox.” As if COVID-19 wasn’t enough to worry about, now there is another threat to our childrens’ health. But no need to fear, Pedia Pals is here to keep you informed. With the rise of this new disease, parents are left flooded with questions about the safety of their families. What is most important to know is that the cases of Monkeypox have been almost entirely all adults, however it is still a good idea for parents to inform themselves and learn the signs and symptoms, as well as, the steps they can take to prevent contraction.
Let's begin by discussing what exactly Monkeypox are. To put simply, Monkeypox is a viral disease closely related to smallpox or chickenpox. It was first observed in monkeys, which is the origin of the name, but it can be transmitted to other mammals including humans. It is worth noting that for most individuals, if infected, the disease is very mild. So what exactly happens if you contract Monkeypox? The incubation of Monkeypox is anywhere from three to seventeen days. In this period you will feel just fine. The early symptoms are mild, cold-like symptoms, which may include fever, chills, aches and pains. While this persists it would be impossible to differentiate Monkeypox from any other cold or flu. 1-4 days after the initial flu symptoms a rash will begin to develop. It starts as a red mark and then grows into a bump that develops fluid. It becomes pus filled and then will scab over and go away. This whole process takes 2-4 weeks. What is crucial to remember is that a person with Monkeypox is contagious until a new layer of skin has formed, not just until the scabs are gone. The good news is it is a lot harder to catch Monkeypox than COVID-19. The only way to catch Monkeypox is direct contact with the rash, scabs or bodily fluids. It can be spread through respiratory secretions too but not quickly; prolonged face to face contact would be necessary for contraction by this method.
Even though there have been very few reported cases in children and the overall risks to children are low there are risk factors that parents should be aware of. Firstly, stay informed and be aware of cases in your community. If your teenager is in a relationship, make sure they know about Monkeypox and how to keep themselves safe. If your child plays any sports, talk to their coach about how they will plan to keep shared equipment, as well as shared spaces like floor mats, safe and sanitary. Lastly, speak to your child about the dangers of sharing cups, utensils and clothes. Even though it is highly unlikely to catch Monkeypox this way, it is better to be safe than sorry and this will also help prevent catching other infections. Remind them to also wash and sanitize their hands regularly. If your child does develop Monkeypox speak to your pediatrician immediately, Monkeypox can be more severe in children under 8 years of age. If this does occur do not panic there are treatments available but remember that this is extremely unlikely to happen and parents should not be too concerned. The best course of action is to remain informed and vigilant as well as listen to any communications from local public health officials and coordinate with your child's school about safety measures.