What You Need to Know about Monkeypox

First, don’t panic. Second, wear a mask (for COVID, not monkeypox). Third, don’t panic.

Tara Haelle

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image of a man’s back with normal back air and three redlesions that look similar to a large spider bite with scabs
Photo by Marshfield Clinic

With the ever-evolving coronavirus variants, common respiratory diseases like RSV popping up in the wrong season, the mysterious spate of hepatitis cases, and now an unusual outbreak of monkeypox cases… you could be forgiven for being exhausted by an onslaught of plagues that feels almost biblical.

But all viruses are not equal, and the emergence of these new monkeypox cases you’ve been hearing about does not mean we’re headed for yet another global pandemic that will upend our lives all over again. Here’s what you need to know about monkeypox, its symptoms and transmission, and how much you do — or don’t — need to worry about it.

Before we jump into the questions, it’s worth noting that COVID-19 cases have been steadily rising the past several weeks even as they are increasingly underreported due to home testing, delayed testing, and low levels of testing. You remain at far greater risk of COVID-19 than any other contagious illness right now, and vaccination, masking, good ventilation, and avoiding indoor gatherings remain the most effective ways to prevent it.

So what the heck is monkeypox?

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Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle is a science journalist, public speaker, and author of Vaccination Investigation and The Informed Parent. Follow her at @tarahaelle.