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Ask Dr. Nandi: Your Monkeypox questions answered

Posted at 3:42 PM, Aug 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-01 17:59:31-04

(WXYZ) — Rising Monkeypox cases in the US are causing concern. WXYZ has received many questions from viewers regarding this virus. And here to provide some answers is our Chief Health Editor Dr. Partha Nandi.

Here’s what viewer Jane Allman wrote:

Dr. Nandi, I have two grandsons who will be wrestling this winter for their local high school. I have seen numerous articles about the Monkeypox virus and am concerned regarding potential exposure to all wrestlers this coming season. Since wrestling is such a CLOSE contact sport…how much danger is there for a wrestler to contract this virus?

I know skin infections are a constant problem for wrestlers. My oldest grandson contracted a super-bug skin infection a few years ago, and it required quite a lengthy antibiotic treatment to clear up the infection. My daughter-in-law checked the health department website for a possible vaccine appointment and discovered the current vaccine is currently for those people 18 and older. It appears young wrestlers do not have a means to help protect themselves against this yucky virus.

No one seems to be asking this question…maybe you could offer all wrestlers some advice regarding how they can avoid contracting this virus during the upcoming wrestling season.

Thank you to Jane for those questions. As a parent myself, I can understand the concern. Wrestling, as we all know, is a close-contact sport. And the primary way Monkeypox is spread is through close contact. People can get infected through physical contact with the rash, scabs, or lesions that can develop anywhere on the body or through bodily fluids like salvia. Infections can also happen through respiratory particles during prolonged face-to-face contact or if someone touches contaminated items like clothing or towels.

As for how much danger there is for student wrestlers and the general public of contracting Monkeypox - right now, it’s “believed to be low” according to the CDC. Those most at risk are men who have sexual contact with other men. Having said that, I think it can’t hurt to take precautions. So to answer Jane’s question, “how can wrestlers avoid contracting this virus?” here’s my advice.

  • Try to avoid contact with any rash that looks like it might be Monkeypox.
  • Don’t share items like water bottles, eating utensils or towels.
  • Wash hands regularly with soap and water, especially before eating or touching your face. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer also works well.
  • Know how much spread there is in your community. Keep an eye on the CDC’s map, which tracks Monkeypox cases in every state - you can also sign up for health department alerts.

Another question comes from Donna Hitpas…she asks “What is the treatment for it?”

There are no specific treatments for Monkeypox infections. However, Monkeypox and smallpox are similar viruses. So antivirals used for smallpox - such as tecovirimat (TPOXX) - can be prescribed. But they’re usually only recommended for severe cases – like patients with a body-wide rash and a high risk for complications from monkeypox. For the most part, treatment involves managing symptoms while isolating at home. Painkillers and sitz baths can help to relieve pain and itchiness.

Last question is from Crecie Satney…”Can people die from it?”

The Monkeypox virus can be fatal. So far, there have been four deaths outside of Africa. India just reported its first death and there were two in Spain and one in Brazil. Having said that, the type of monkeypox virus spreading worldwide is called the West African type. And the CDC estimates around 99% of infected patients will likely survive. Those most at risk are people with weakened immune systems, kids under eight years of age, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. If you or a loved one falls into the high-risk category, I would recommend speaking to your family doctor about the vaccine. And definitely take precautions to avoid the virus. While the risk of death is low, it can cause agonizing symptoms. Complications include scarring from the rash, eye infections that can lead to vision loss, pulmonary distress, and bronchopneumonia.