First identified in 1958, the monkeypox virus has many experts thinking back to the early COVID days, while others wonder: “Is monkeypox an STD?” If this is the first time you’ve heard the word “monkeypox,” keep reading to learn everything you need to know about this virus. This article will discuss what monkeypox is, how experts classify it, how it presents, and how it’s treated.
Scientists first discovered monkeypox in monkeys (hence the name) in Copenhagen, Denmark, in the late 1950s, but in late 1970, doctors identified the virus in a baby boy from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Outbreaks struck across West and Central Africa before spreading to the United States in 2003.
Since then, the virus has appeared in Singapore, the United Kingdom, and other countries. Experts are currently tracking a worldwide monkeypox outbreak that has affected people in Europe, Africa, the Americas, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Western Pacific.
Monkeypox commonly presents with fever, muscle aches, headaches, swollen lymph nodes, back pain, lethargy, and rashes. The disease spreads from animals to humans and between humans through physical contact with infected people and their environments.
Most people who contract the monkeypox virus recover within weeks. However, this viral infection can cause health complications in certain cases, including confusion, skin infections, eye issues, pneumonia, and in extreme cases, death.
The people most vulnerable to complications from monkeypox include pregnant women, newborns, children, and people with deficient immune systems.
The risk of exposure to monkeypox increases if you:
If you think you may have monkeypox, contact your doctor. If you need to rule out STDs like herpes, syphilis, or gonorrhea, visit a Rapid STD Testing lab near you.
The current outbreak of monkeypox has experts debating whether or not to call it a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or sexually transmitted infection (STI). To help you understand this debate, let’s discuss how people share this viral infection and what the experts are saying.
The most common method of transmission is skin-to-skin contact, especially with open lesions on the skin of an infected person. Because the most current outbreak has disproportionately affected men who have sex with men, some people have started mislabeling monkeypox as an STD.
But is monkeypox an STD? Most healthcare professionals agree that it is not. Monkeypox transmission does not occur by way of sexual body fluids like semen or vaginal discharge. In other words, two people don’t need to have sexual or intimate contact for one to catch the monkeypox virus.
You may wonder why it matters if we classify the monkeypox virus as an STD. Calling a disease an STD comes with several common assumptions that don’t apply to monkeypox, which could complicate prevention and control efforts if the public is misinformed.
For example, condoms are among the best options for preventing the spread of an STD like herpes, chlamydia, or HIV, but a condom won’t necessarily protect anyone from the monkeypox virus. Experts worry that mislabeling monkeypox as an STD will mislead people into believing they are safe in nonsexual situations and thus compromise the health community’s ability to control the spread.
Experts believe that the monkeypox outbreak will mirror the spread of diseases like meningitis or MRSA, not STDs. For example, monkeypox may spread primarily through daycare centers and schools.
For most people, symptoms begin to appear within three weeks of exposure. Common monkeypox symptoms include:
Like any other infectious disease, monkeypox doesn’t affect everyone the same way. Some people only experience a rash, while others experience a variety of symptoms.
Two of monkeypox’s most recognizable and common symptoms include swollen lymph nodes and rashes.
Swollen lymph nodes are a common sign of infection, whether bacterial or viral. If your lymph nodes are swollen, you may experience tenderness or pain in the area under your jaw. Your lymph nodes may swell to kidney bean size or larger.
Most people who contract monkeypox get a rash at some point during the infection. Rashes appear all over the body, most commonly on the:
Monkeypox lesions lie flat on the skin when they first show up. They then fill with fluid, crust or scab over and eventually fall off.
If you’re experiencing a rash like this or any other monkeypox symptoms, talk to your doctor about getting tested. If you’re dealing with similar symptoms but test negative for monkeypox, you may have an STD. Visit a Rapid STD Testing lab for one of our 10 panel STD tests.
Treating monkeypox focuses on symptom management and helping immunodeficient patients fight off infection. Because monkeypox is a pox virus, healthcare professionals may prescribe antiviral medications or recommend vaccines like the available FDA-approved smallpox and monkeypox vaccines.
Even though the answer to the question, “Is monkeypox an STD?” is no, you may still contract the virus through your sexual partners. If you find yourself struggling with any possible monkeypox symptoms like a rash but don’t know if you have it, visit your primary physician, or quickly rule out STDs with a rapid STD test by Rapid STD Testing.