SWFL dermatologist outlines monkeypox symptoms, risk factors

Reporter: Elizabeth Biro Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
FILE – This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. WHO’s top monkeypox expert Dr. Rosamund Lewis said she doesn’t expect the hundreds of cases reported to date to turn into another pandemic, but acknowledged there are still many unknowns about the disease, including how exactly it’s spreading and whether the suspension of mass smallpox immunization decades ago may somehow be speeding its transmission. (Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP, File)

It can be weeks before monkeypox symptoms develop. WINK News spoke to a dermatologist in Estero who saw a monkeypox patient and explained what to look out for.

The dermatologist also said that even though two children have been diagnosed with monkeypox, the primary risk group is men who have sex with men.

The CDC believes those two children got monkeypox due to household transmission.

Estero Dermatologist Robin Gehris said the mission must be to slow the spread of monkeypox, not to stigmatize those who get monkeypox.

Gehris is one of the growing numbers of doctors who suddenly had to deal with a patient who feared he had monkeypox. The man she spoke with was first examined via telehealth.

“It was a gentleman in his 30s, who presented initially with fever, chills, muscle aches, and actually some swollen lymph nodes, and had lesions that were sort of crusted and almost looked like large acne bumps, but very crusted on the chin,” said Gehris.

Gehris said the patient, who lives in New York, is a man who has sex with other men, putting him at a higher risk.

“He had already passed the fever or chills, but he definitely felt like he initially had the flu. So this wasn’t just a normal illness,” said Gehris.

The patient followed up his appointment with a visit to the emergency room while Gehris notified New York’s Department of Health.

The World Health Organization has declared monkeypox a global health emergency. Gehris believes that will help slow the spread. “Once the who declared that I think lots more resources become available on a statewide, and a national level.”

Those resources include vaccines, PCR tests, and various antiviral treatment drugs.

The Florida Department of Health has allocated vaccines for those in high-risk groups, including people in hospitals who may be exposed.

Sexual contact is not the only way to contract monkeypox. Infected animals can spread monkeypox to people, and people can spread monkeypox to animals through close contact, like petting or licking.

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