BOZEMAN — The headlines are grim enough that you might be worried monkeypox is like COVID-19 or any other life-threatening disease. The good news is that it cannot kill you, but it is contagious. Although monkeypox is not deadly, it is painful enough for you to want to avoid it the best you can.
City-County Health Officer Lori Christenson said symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headaches, body aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and a rash that looks like pimples or blisters on the face, mouth, and other parts of the body.
"It's usually spread through that direct contact, infectious rash or scabs,” said Christenson. “Sometimes people can get a rash first followed by other symptoms, or they just experience the rash.”
On August 5, The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services announced the first confirmed case of Monkey Pox in Flathead County.
On August 9, Gallatin County announced its first probable case but it is not yet confirmed.
Christenson says monkeypox can be spread through respiratory secretions during prolonged face-to-face contact as well as physical contact like kissing, cuddling, or sex.
It can also be spread by touching objects like fabrics, linens, and clothing that had previously touched the rash or bodily fluid of someone with monkeypox.
Christenson said the majority of cases they've seen nationally mainly involve men who have sex with men. However, she says they are definitely not the only ones who are being affected, and blaming one community might harm public health efforts.
“Anyone who is sexually active with multiple partners or is partners with someone who has multiple sex partners is at risk of being exposed to monkeypox,” said Christenson.
Christenson says it's important to protect yourself right now and be mindful of who you interact with intimately.
“Be sure you avoid sexual contact with anyone who has any open wounds, sores, or rashes,” she said.