Monkeypox has recently been a common topic of conversation in the news and on social media about children getting monkeypox after returning to school or day care. Understandably, there are questions about this rare disease, and concern it could spread like COVID-19. Thankfully, monkeypox is not as dangerous as COVID-19.

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare viral disease in the same family as smallpox that causes flu-like symptoms and painful skin lesions.

How does monkeypox compare to COVID-19?

Monkeypox has spread to many countries; however, the likelihood that his will be a pandemic like CoVID-19 is low.

Other differences between COVID-19 and monkeypox include:

  • Monkeypox does not spread as easily
  • Vaccines that could be used to prevent monkeypox already exist
  • Monkeypox is spread when symptoms are present

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, and a painful blister-like rash.  They usually appear within three weeks of exposure to the virus and can last between two to four weeks.

How is monkeypox spread?

According to the most recent data from the CDC, only 27 kids from 0 – 15 years old in the U.S. have contracted Monkeypox to date this year.  Though this number is small, it is still important to be aware of it and know how it is transmitted. Monkeypox can spread to anyone, primarily through skin-to-skin contact, including:

  • Contact with rashes, scabs, or bodily fluids from someone with monkeypox
  • Touching objects, fabrics, or surfaces that someone with monkeypox has used
  • Contact with respiratory secretions

Additionally, pregnant women can pass the virus to their fetus through the placenta.

Is there a vaccine available for monkeypox?

There are two approved vaccines available which can be given to select children and teenagers who are at high risk of developing a severe infection and those that have been exposed yet not developed symptoms yet.  In addition, there are antiviral drugs which may be used to treat a child or teenager who has monkeypox. 

What should I do if I think my child may have been exposed?

If you feel your child has been exposed to monkeypox, the most important thing to do is not panic and understand that not all rashes are due to monkeypox. If you are concerned about possible exposure, the first step is to call your child’s primary care physician.  After better understanding the nature of a possible exposure, and looking at a rash, the next steps can be discussed.

If additional care is required, the Infectious Disease Care at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach can provide care for infants, children, adolescents, and pregnant women at risk for or infected with infectious diseases such as monkeypox.

For more information regarding monkeypox, please access these additional resources: