September 21, 2022
Since the global monkeypox outbreak began in the United Kingdom back in May, more than 23,000 cases have been confirmed in the United States. In an effort to help people protect themselves and their loved ones, Independence Blue Cross Senior Vice President of Health Services and Chief Medical Officer Rodrigo Cerdá, M.D. provided valuable insights on how the virus spreads, the symptoms to look out for, testing, and vaccines:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. It is part of the same family of viruses that causes smallpox.
Monkeypox can spread in a few ways:
• Through close, direct contact with a rash, scabs, body fluids (blood or semen), and respiratory secretions from a person with monkeypox.
• By touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.
• From a pregnant person to their fetus through the placenta.
According to the CDC, monkeypox is often transmitted through close, sustained physical contact, which can include sexual contact. The CDC website provides information to help you make informed choices about safer sex, social gatherings, and monkeypox.
In addition, Monkeypox is zoonotic, meaning that it can spread from animals to humans.
A rash is a distinguishing symptom of monkeypox. The rash may be located on or near the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus (butthole) and could also be found on the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth.
At the start, the rash can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy. The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing.
Other monkeypox symptoms may include:
• Muscle aches and backache
• Swollen lymph nodes
• Respiratory symptoms (e.g., sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
Symptoms usually start within three weeks of exposure to the virus. If you have flu-like symptoms, you may develop a rash one to four days after symptoms begin.
Monkeypox can be spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.
It is important to note that if you or a loved one is experiencing new symptoms, you should contact your healthcare provider or public health clinic. In most cases, the symptoms of monkeypox go away on their own within a few weeks.
At this time, there are no treatments specifically approved for monkeypox virus infections. According to the CDC, antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox may be used to prevent and treat monkeypox virus infections.
Independence Blue Cross covers medically necessary health care costs to treat infectious diseases, including monkeypox, based on the terms of the member’s insurance plan and in consideration of any steps taken by the federal government.
Yes, a monkeypox virus test is available to determine if a person is infected with the virus that causes monkeypox.
Independence Blue Cross is covering the cost for testing for members through LabCorp. The test must be ordered by a physician or authorized by a health care professional. At this time, standard member cost-sharing applies for testing.
There are three main ways to protect yourself from getting monkeypox.
There are two vaccines that may be used for the prevention of monkeypox virus infection. The CDC recommends vaccination for people who have been exposed to monkeypox. Some people are also at a higher risk of getting monkeypox, including healthcare, public health, and lab workers.
Vaccine guidelines can be found at cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/vaccines.
At this time, standard cost-sharing applies for vaccines for Independence Blue Cross members.
The CDC and WHO are both excellent sources of information, along with your state or city health department websites:
If you have questions about specific symptoms you are experiencing or about your personal health, please contact your doctor.
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