CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Pennsylvania ranks in the top ten for confirmed number of monkeypox cases in the United States. Our neighboring state of New York is number one.

It’s not novel as the virus has impacted central and west Africa for decades. It is new to our area, however.

“Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, I think people, you know, can be a little fearful when they hear of the term virus,” Dr. Alison Brodginski, Geisinger’s northeast director of infectious diseases said. “I don’t want to dismiss the idea that there’s a new virus that’s circulating here, but I just want to make sure that I think everyone has a general understanding that, you know, this is not something that the infectious diseases community is concerned about, from a new lethal virus if you will.” 

Its spread is different than COVID-19.

“It does not spread that rapidly,” Dr. Mohammed Ali, an infectious disease physician with Penn State Health said. “You need to have prolonged contact, intimate contact at times, to get it.”

There is a vaccine used post-exposure and for those at high-risk.

“It’s not something that we are recommending to the general public right now,” Dr. Brodginski said, however.

If you were vaccinated for smallpox, which is in the same family, the correlation of protection is not yet known.

“The risk of catching monkeypox is low at this point,” Dr. Ali said. “I think the prevention is basically, generally, what we do for good hygiene.”

Symptoms include fever, body aches, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash.

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“Thankfully, we have not had any deaths related to monkeypox,” Dr. Brodginski said.

Most will recover from monkeypox on their own, but you’re encouraged to report if you have symptoms or have been exposed.