The CDC Issues a Travel Warning for Monkeypox

Another viral disease is making headlines, and while it is not impacting travel, authorities in the U.S. have issued a new travel warning in light of its spread.

Monkeypox, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is a disease with symptoms similar to but milder than smallpox. So far, dozens of cases have been confirmed in Europe, and at least two have been confirmed in the U.S. and another two in Canada.

The main symptoms of monkeypox are fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, chills, and exhaustion, along with a rash that often begins on the face and then spreads to other parts of the body within 1 to 3 days (or sometimes longer) of infection. The disease also causes swollen lymph nodes, the main difference between it and smallpox.

According to the CDC, the illness typically lasts for two to four weeks and can be fatal in as many as 1% to 11% of people who become infected.

The disease has been around for decades and appears outside of central or west Africa, where it usually occurs, in small numbers each year. None of the new cases has been linked to travel to those areas, which spurred this week’s travel notice. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) said this week that while a lot of the spread, especially in Europe, seems to have come from sexual intercourse, the disease is spread through close contact with people, with the virus entering the body through broken skin, eyes, nose, or mouth.

Travel warning
In light of the spread, however small, the CDC this week issued a travel warning for moneybox. The travel warning is Level 2: Practice Enhanced Precautions.

The CDC is not telling travelers to avoid travel to the 16 countries that have cases because of the spread, instead, it is recommending that travelers exercise caution and be aware of the symptoms. A full list of the countries that have cases can be found here.

The warning advises travelers to avoid “close contact with sick people, including those with skin lesions or genital lesions” and to also avoid “contract with dead or live animals such as small mammals including rodents (rats, squirrels) and non-human primates (monkeys, apes).”

It is also recommending washing hands with soap and water, keeping your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth, and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

Even with the warning, is important to remember, especially in light of COVID-19, that the risk to the general public with monkeypox is low. Travelers should seek medical care immediately “if you develop new, unexplained skin rash (lesions on any part of the body), with or without fever and chills.”