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Guidance on Monkeypox for EMS Providers

Posted: May 26, 2022

Recommended responses to a suspected monkeypox infection.

A confirmed case of monkeypox in the United States has added to the recent concern about the spread of the monkeypox virus.

In response, the Department of Health and Human Services' National Emerging Special Pathogens Training and Education Center (NETEC) published EMS Response to the Current Outbreak of Monkeypox on May 19, 2022. This guide includes actionable information, such as:

  • Identifying the signs, symptoms and risk factors for monkeypox.
  • EMS strategies for preventing the spread of monkeypox.
  • How to prevent person-to-person transmission of monkeypox.

Other information emergency medical services (EMS) providers should know about monkeypox:

  • It's a rare but potentially serious viral illness related to the smallpox virus.
  • It's very unlikely that EMS providers will encounter a person infected with monkeypox during routine operations.
  • It's found mainly in central and western Africa. Cases of monkeypox outside of Africa are typically linked to international travel or imported animals.
  • It typically spreads from close person-to-person contact through large respiratory droplets, direct contact with skin lesions or bodily fluids, or indirect contact via contaminated clothing or linens.
  • Its symptoms include fever and chills, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash similar to chickenpox that can spread throughout the body, notably on the palms of the hands.

Why is monkeypox in the news?

Outbreaks usually do not spread across borders, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), since May 14, clusters of monkeypox cases have been reported in several countries that don't normally have monkeypox, including Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

On May 18, a single case of monkeypox in an adult male with recent travel to Canada was confirmed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

What should you do if you think you've encountered a monkeypox infection?

EMS providers should consult their state health department or CDC’s monkeypox call center through the CDC Emergency Operations Center (770-488-7100) as soon as monkeypox is suspected.

This article is based on content in the
May 26, 2022 InfoGram.

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