The global outbreak of monkeypox, a viral infection once contained in western and central Africa, has prompted the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue a level 2 travel alert.
The CDC’s alert change has sparked comparisons to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, in which travel was restricted around the world to prevent the spread of coronavirus. While health experts have said that the monkeypox outbreak should not be compared to the COVID pandemic as it’s less infectious, the public should still be vigilant about preventing the contraction and spread of the virus.
Here’s what the CDC’s level 2 travel alert means and how it will affect you, as a traveler:
What Does the Level 2 Travel Alert Mean?
In light of the recent outbreak, the CDC issued a level 2 travel alert. The CDC has three different levels when it comes to traveling: level 1 which is “Practice Usual Precautions,” level 2 which is the “Alert” level, and level 3, which is “Warning.”
Level 3 means that individuals should not travel unless it is absolutely necessary. While level 2 does not actually restrict travel, it does mean that individuals should practice some “enhanced precautions” to avoid the virus and keep an ear out for further instructions.
What Are the Symptoms of Monkeypox?
Symptoms of monkeypox can include the following:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Migraines and headaches
- Muscle aches
The current outbreak has seen 200 confirmed and over 100 suspected cases in 20 different countries.
A professor of public health at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, Andrew Lee, told Newsweek that monkeypox is “much less infectious than COVID-19 is, so the speed at which it spreads in populations is markedly less.”
What Can You Do?
There is no vaccine against Monkeypox. However, there are certain actions individuals can take to prevent contracting and spreading the infection.
The CDC recommends that people avoid “contact with dead or live wild animals such as small mammals including rodents (rats, squirrels) and non-human primates (monkeys, apes).”
The organization has further warned that people should “avoid eating or preparing meat from wild game (bushmeat) or using products derived from wild animals from Africa (creams, lotions, powders).”
What Causes Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a double-stranded DNA virus that spreads from animals to humans, according to the World Health Organization. While it’s still unknown which animal is spreading the current infection, rodents are thought to be the culprit.
The monkeypox virus enters the body through broken skin, the respiratory system, or mucous membranes, according to the CDC. People can also contract the virus through direct contact with bodily fluids.
“Human-to-human monkeypox transmission is believed to be quite inefficient, thus it requires close contact,” Roger Paredes, a member of the World Health Organization HIV Drug Resistance Strategy Steering Committee and of the US International Antiviral Society, told Newsweek. “The main routes of transmission between humans are airborne, through contact with skin or mucosal lesions, body fluids, but also with bedding. The secondary attack rate is usually 3 percent, but in close contacts can increase to 50 percent.”