The global outbreak of monkeypox, a viral infection that once contained western and central Africa, has prompted the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue a Level 2 travel advisory.
The CDC’s alert change has drawn comparisons to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw travel restricted around the world to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. While health experts have said that the monkeypox outbreak should not be compared to the COVID pandemic because it is less contagious, the public should still remain vigilant to prevent the virus from contracting and spreading.
Here’s what the CDC’s Level 2 travel advisory means and how it affects you as a traveler:
What does the level 2 travel warning mean?
In light of the recent outbreak, the CDC has issued a Level 2 travel advisory. The CDC has three distinct levels when it comes to travel: Level 1, which is “Practice Usual Precautions,” Level 2, which is the “Alert” level, and Level 3, which is “Alert.”
Level 3 means individuals should not travel unless absolutely necessary. While Stage 2 doesn’t really restrict travel, it means individuals should take some “extended precautions” to avoid the virus and be on the lookout for further guidance.
What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
Symptoms of monkeypox can include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- migraines and headaches
- back pain
- Muscle cramp
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 UK, Andrew Lee, said news week that monkeypox “is much less contagious than COVID-19, so the rate at which it spreads through populations is significantly slower.”
What can you do?
There is no vaccine against monkeypox. However, there are certain measures individuals can take to prevent contagion and the spread of infection.
The CDC recommends that people “avoid contact with wild animals, dead or alive, such as small mammals, including rodents (rats, squirrels) and non-human primates (monkeys, great apes).”
The organization has also warned that people should “avoid eating or preparing game meat (bushmeat) or using products derived from wild animals originating in 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. Although it is not yet known which animal is spreading the current infection, rodents are believed to be the culprits.
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 transmission of monkeypox is thought to be quite inefficient, so it requires close contact,” said Roger Paredes, a member of the steering committee for the HIV drug resistance strategy of the World Health Organization and the US International Antiviral Society news week. “The main transmission routes between people are via the air, through contact with skin or mucous membrane lesions, body fluids, but also with bedding. The secondary attack rate is typically 3 percent but can increase to 50 percent with close contacts.”