PODCAST | Monkeypox: How it spreads, when to test & why people 42 and up may be protected

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  • The most telling symptom of monkeypox is blisters on your skin and it can take two to four weeks to recover. Most people recover withou the need for treatment. The same type of lab test is used to confirm Covid and monkeypox (PCR). But where nasal swabs are taken as samples to test in the case of Covid, swabs from the blisters that form on your skin are used for monkeypox.
  • Monkeypox is far less infectious than SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19). Close contact, such as hugging, kissing or sex, is required for monkeypox transmission. Contaminated materials, such as shared linen or clothes that were in touch with skin lesions of an infected person, can also transmit the virus.
  • The smallpox vaccine provides 85% protection against infection with monkeypox, but South Africa stopped vaccinating people against smallpox in 1980, so only people of 42 and older who got vaccinated will have that protection.

On June 23 the National Institute for Communicable Diseases detected South Africa’s first monkeypox case.

But the virus is far less infectious than SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. 

People who get infected mostly recover without treatment within two to four weeks. 

Monkeypox needs close physical contact, such as kissing, hugging or sex, to move from person to person.

Blisters on the skin can also contaminate clothes or linen if you do have it.

So, how do monkeypox tests work? And what should you do if you test positive?

*This story was produced by the Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism. Sign up for the newsletter.

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