​​​​​​Monkeypox​

​​​​​Prevention​

The first case of monkeypox in Anchorage was identified in late July. Monkeypox is a serious, but rarely fatal infection. Simple preventative steps can help reduce the spread of monkeypox in Anchorage.

​​​​​How it Spreads​

The known routes of transmission are:

  • Direct contact with a monkeypox rash, scabs, or body fluid from a person with monkeypox. This occurs primarily from skin-to-skin contact including sex, hugging, touching, kissing, and cuddling.
  • Respiratory secretions spread during prolonged face-to-face contact.
  • Less commonly by sharing or touching items an infected individual has used including clothing, bedding, utensils, and cups.
Transmission is known to occur from the time of symptom onset until the scabs are completely healed and fresh skin has formed.

Scientists are investigating whether the virus could be spread by other means, such as by exposure to semen or vaginal fluids, or whether asymptomatic transmission is possible. Information on this webpage will be updated if new information becomes available.

​​​​​Prevention Advice​

There are several effective ways to prevent monkeypox:

  • Don't engage in close, personal, skin-to-skin contact with someone who has a rash that looks like monkeypox.
  • Don't touch items that belong to an individual who has monkeypox.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating, touching your face, and after using the bathroom.

Additionally, avoiding certain behaviors may further reduce your risk:

  • Be aware that having multiple or anonymous sex partners may put you at higher risk of infection regardless of your sexual orientation.
  • Avoid crowded events where close, personal, skin-to-skin contact is likely to occur. This activities can happen at raves and some festivals.

​​​​Higher-Risk Groups & Sexual Activity​

Anyone can get monkeypox, and sexual orientation does not play a role in whether or not an individual is infected if they come into contact with the virus. It's also true that many current cases involve individuals with anonymous or multiple sex partners and men who have sex with men. Identifying who is currently at a higher risk is an important step in ensuring individuals are able to make informed decisions and that vaccines are prioritized effectively. The public should be aware that risk profiles can change over time.

Additionally, while monkeypox can and does spread via sexual activity, this is not the only means of transmission. Unlike an STI, monkeypox can spread through contact with an infected individual's belongings, including items like fabric and utensils. The rash can occur on any part of an individual's body, meaning traditional STI protection like condoms cannot prevent all exposures during intimate contact.

​​Signs & Symptoms​

Monkeypox is rarely fatal and not spread as easily as many other diseases, including COVID-19. However, monkeypox is still a serious illness that can be uncomfortable and painful. It's important to know what to look for, how to avoid it, and when to seek help.

Monkeypox Progression

Monkeypox usually starts with a flu-like illness. Symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Exhaustion
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Headache
  • Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
After 1-4 days, a rash will develop. In some cases the rash can occur with no flu-like symptoms or at the same time as the flu-like symptoms. The rash may be located on or near the genitals (penis, vagina) or anus (butthole), but it can also appear on areas like the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth.

The rash will go through several stages, and may look like pimples or blisters. The sores will eventually scab over before healing. All sores are typically fully healed in 2-4 weeks, at which point the person is no longer contagious and can leave isolation.

Examples of a Monkeypox Rash

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What if I Might Have Monkeypox?

If you think you may have monkeypox, stay home and contact your primary medical provider. They will advise you on the next steps, which may include evaluation and testing.

If you don't have a medical provider, those living in Anchorage can call us at 907-343-6718 for assistance. For after hours help, contact an urgent care center or emergency room. If you are having a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.

​​​​​Vaccination​

The JYNNEOS vaccine is approved in the U.S. for prevention of smallpox and monkeypox in people aged 18 and older. The vaccine should ideally be given within 4 days of exposure, but it may be given up to 14 days after exposure. Vaccination to prevent monkeypox is not recommended for the general public.

​​​​Eligibility​

Vaccine availability at the Anchorage Health Department is currently limited. The following two tiers are currently eligible to receive the vaccine. The JYNNEOS vaccine is a two-dose series, but due to supply concerns we are prioritizing 1st doses.

For questions, call us at 907-343-6718 or email monkeypox@anchorageak.gov.

I think I've Had an Exposure​

If you believe you have had an exposure and have not been contacted, please call us at 907-343-6718. During the weekend, you can email monkeypox@anchorageak.gov and describe your situation. This inbox is monitored throughout the weekend, and if immediate action is necessary, you will be contacted. Please do not use this email on the weekend if you are symptomatic, and instead contact an emergency room or urgent care.

JYNNEOS Vaccine Information​

The JYNNEOS vaccine has been authorized for emergency use in the U.S. for the prevention of monkeypox. The vaccine contains vaccinia virus, which is a virus related to the monkeypox and smallpox viruses, that has been weakened, cannot copy itself in human cells, and cannot spread to other parts of the body or people. The vaccine cannot cause monkeypox, smallpox, or vaccinia in the person getting vaccinated or those around them.

Common side effects include pain, swelling and redness at the site of the shot. Fatigue, headache, and muscle pain are the most common reactions after vaccination.

Clinical trial data shows the vaccine should be effective in preventing monkeypox. However, we do not yet have real-world data on how effective the vaccine will be in preventing monkeypox in the current outbreak. If you have questions or concerns, talk to your health care provider or call us at 907-343-6718 or email monkeypox@anchorageak.gov.

​​Smallpox Vaccine History​

The smallpox vaccine has existed in some form since 1796. The original inoculation was believed to be a live version of the less severe cowpox virus, but it was later discovered that 19th Century inoculations contained a unique pox virus closer in origin to horsepox. The virus was given the name vaccinia, and is the same live virus that is contained in the smallpox vaccine today.

Treatment​

No deaths from this monkeypox outbreak have been recorded in the U.S. Most cases of monkeypox involve isolating at home for 2-4 weeks while the scabs completely heal. There are no specific treatments for monkeypox.

In cases where a patient is immunocompromised, your doctor may work with the State of Alaska and CDC to administer an antiviral drug called TPOXX. This drug is intended to treat smallpox, but may also work against monkeypox.

3.

How to Get Help

If you think you may have monkeypox, stay home and contact your primary medical provider. They will advise you on the next steps, which may include evaluation and testing.

No Medical Provider?

Those in Anchorage can call us at 907-343-6718 for assistance. For after hours help, contact an urgent care center or emergency room.

If you are having a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.

Vaccine Questions

Call us at 907-343-6718 or email monkeypox@anchorageak.gov.


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