The World Health Organization declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency on July 23, 2022, and the United States administration followed with a public health emergency declaration on August 4, 2022.
Monkeypox is NOT a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and does NOT spread exclusively among gay men.
Monkeypox typically has an incubation period between 1-2 weeks, but it can take up to three weeks for monkeypox symptoms to become evident. The infection usually causes blisters and sores across the skin, crusting and scabs over the open wounds, and swollen lymph nodes.
The good news is that the chances of dying from monkeypox are extremely low. The bad news is that the lesions or blisters caused by the virus are extremely painful and debilitating for people who are infected. All of that said, there have been some deadlier strains of the virus that are thought to have possibly killed hundreds of people in the Congo, but it is relatively less dangerous than the present COVID-19 pandemic.
Understanding how monkeypox is transmitted makes it especially important to avoid kissing, oral sex, or being intimate with someone if you or your partner has active mouth or throat sores.
However, if you are exhibiting other symptoms of monkeypox and—given what we know about how monkeypox is transmitted—you have an intimate partner who has lesions in their mouth or around their groin area, it could hypothetically be monkeypox.
Although monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease, doctors do know that certain “high risk” lifestyles—such as having multiple sexual partners or being with someone who does—raise the chances of contracting monkeypox. The World Health Organization and CDC (centers for disease control and prevention) are still studying whether it can be spread through respiratory droplets or bodily fluids.
So far, treatment for monkeypox mouth and throat sores symptoms include:
If you notice, these treatments are strictly for analgesic (pain relief) purposes rather than actually reversing the presence of mouth sores. As of yet, there are no treatments for the monkeypox virus. But individuals who have compromised immune systems may be given antiviral medication by their physician.
Although what we know about monkeypox is still limited, research shows that the active infection usually lasts somewhere between 2-4 weeks. Mouth and throat sores related to monkeypox may not develop for as long as three weeks after exposure.
Because oral blisters can allow for viral transmission to other people, it’s important to avoid close contact with others and wear a mask until you can see a healthcare provider. Face-to-face contact, kissing, and being intimate with someone else can spread mouth and throat sores related to monkeypox. It’s even thought that coming into contact with something else—like sheets or clothes—that have been in contact with someone who has monkeypox can allow the virus to spread.
If you suspect you have been exposed to monkeypox or have monkeypox mouth sores symptoms, it’s important to follow CDC recommendations by seeing a medical professional or health department for appropriate testing. Although many small medical clinics or neighborhood hospitals do not have access to monkeypox tests, they can take samples and send them to the county or district health department if they feel you are exhibiting classic warning signs, especially if you have been around someone with monkeypox or traveled to an area where cases are high.
In communities where monkeypox cases are on the rise, more robust testing is available, made possible through public health departments that are funded by the government.
If you have recently traveled to California, New York, or Illinois, have multiple sexual partners, or are a homosexual man, and are experiencing monkeypox mouth sore symptoms, you should isolate and speak to a medical professional at your earliest opportunity.
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