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Making Sense of Monkeypox

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With monkeypox rearing its ugly head, we asked Nick Testa, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Common-spirit Health Southern California Division, the facts and figures about the new outbreak.

VNG: It was announced this week that children are getting monkeypox now. Dispell the myth that this is a “gay” disease

Testa: Anyone may become infected with monkeypox. It’s spread by skin-to-skin contact and anyone who comes in direct contact with an infected person may contract the virus. It may also be contracted by direct contact with contaminated objects like towels and sheets. 

VNG: How can you protect yourself? 

Testa: Avoid contact with any person who has the monkeypox virus or any items they may have touched. A person with monkeypox is contagious for up to 21 days after symptoms first appear. A limited supply of vaccines are currently available for those most at risk. Reach out to your primary care doctor for any questions or if you believe you have been exposed. 

VNG: What are the first symptoms? 

Testa: The first symptoms are very similar to flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, aches and pains) plus significant lymph node swelling.  After these initial symptoms the patient can develop a rash that starts out as red lesions, develops into bumps and  then pus filled blisters. 

• VNG: How long do symptoms last? 

Most symptoms of monkeypox last between two and four weeks.

VNG:How are they cured?

Testa: The current strain of monkeypox that we are seeing has a self-limiting course and should resolve in three to four weeks.  In rare cases it can be associated with severe complications, especially in those who are immuno-compromised. 

VNG: What is LA County doing to stop the spread? 

Testa: The LA County Board of Supervisors declared monkeypox a local emergency this week after Governor Gavin Newsom issued a state of emergency on Monday.  This proclamation is designed to help the county obtain state and federal resources, including additional doses of vaccines. 

VNG: Is this a new pandemic? 

Tesa: It is considered a new pandemic.

Editor’s Note: There is currently a walk-up vaccination clinic at the Balboa Sports Complex (17015 Burbank Blvd., Encino) open from 11 am to 6 pm, closed Monday and Tuesday. For more info and required documentation, visit

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