Amidst rising monkeypox cases across the globe, the CDC on Monday raised its alert to level 2, recommending that travelers wear masks, among other health measures.
“Cases of monkeypox have been reported in Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia,” the CDC wrote in its alert. “Some cases were reported among men who have sex with men. Some cases were also reported in people who live in the same household as an infected person,” it added.
As it stands, Monkeypox symptoms begin as relatively flu-like but soon expand to the swelling of lymph nodes and a rash across the body and face. Ultimately, painful lesions form on rash areas, leaving severe scarring.
According to Dr. Amesh Adalja who spoke to NBC about the spread of the disease, the disease may have gone undetected in Western countries under the guise of an STI. There are a number of STIs that have similar symptoms to monkeypox.
“What’s likely happened is an endemic infectious disease from Africa found its way into a social and sexual network and then was greatly aided by major amplification events, like raves in Belgium, to disseminate around the world,” Adalja said.
The CDC notes monkeypox belongs to the same genus of the virus as smallpox, but after smallpox was eradicated by worldwide vaccination in 1980, waning immunity against monkeypox may have contributed to the surge in cases since smallpox vaccination is no longer recommended.