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How Different are Monkeypox and Covid19?

Lila Elkins

Centerspread Editor

The news has been overflowing with headlines reading: “Will Monkeypox Be the Next Pandemic?” - Yahoo News, “NYC Switching Kid COVID Vaccine Sites to Monkeypox” - WebMD, and “Monkeypox outbreak: WHO declares global health emergency” - Medical News Today. But is Monkeypox really comparable to Covid19? And is Monkeypox as big of a threat as headlines say? The simple answer- or should we say the most recent answer- is this:

While news of both Monkeypox and Covid19 have bombarded the media, the two viruses are virtually incomparable and have drastically different effects on the body. Monkeypox, a disease originating from Central and West Africa from animals such as rodents, spreads from close physical contact, transmission of bodily fluids, face-to-face contact with respiratory droplets, and infected bedding or clothing. Monkeypox can also only spread through a person actively showing symptoms, differing from Covid19 where an asymptomatic person may spread the virus. Monkeypox does not spread through the air like Covid and because of its parameters of transmission, is much easier to contain than Covid19. Another difference is that there has been an effective vaccine against Monkeypox since 2019. Its similarity to smallpox allows doctors to be more familiar with Monkeypox, unlike Covid and its year-long journey of creating a vaccine. The two viruses are very different from a medical standpoint but share one thing in common: they shed light onto America’s underfunded public health system. Covid19 made the public aware and Monkeypox is a reminder that work still needs to be done in the world of public health in the U.S.

But seriously, is Monkeypox all that serious? The short answer is: we don’t know, but it very well might be. The current cases in the U.S. are primarily in adult males who most likely can fight the virus. Dr. Amy Edwards of University Hospitals says, “If the virus jumps to large populations of children or seniors, the outlook could quickly change. The other concern is that Monkeypox could jump to our rodent population and become endemic to the United States.” While Monkeypox has been declared a national health emergency by the U.S, the virus seems to be fairly treatable and not as serious as Covid19. Symptoms of Monkeypox include fever, headache, back and muscle pain, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion, and of course, a pox-like rash on the body similar to Chickenpox. The infectious period can last up to two to four weeks, according to Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada. According to Rasmussen, the main health threat is Covid19, not Monkeypox, and people should maintain Covid19 prevention protocol when also trying not to contract Monkeypox (social distancing, mask wearing, etc.). Moreover, Coronavirus and Monkeypox are very different in nature but can dually be used to magnify the flaws in public health, helping us to repair America’s current public health crises.

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