After the last couple of years living with COVID-19, we were desperately hoping that we would not have to be talking, thinking or writing about the Monkeypox Virus (“MPV”) as a workplace safety and health issue. And while Monkeypox does NOT appear to be a COVID-19 redux, we have been getting enough questions from our clients that it now seems unavoidable that we have to dig into this. Alas, here is our first take on Monkeypox – what is it, what are the symptoms and modes of transmission, how is it similar to and different from COVID-19, and what should employers be thinking about and doing in connection with this latest plague.
The Monkeypox Virus (MPV):
Monkeypox is a zoonotic diseases, which means it is caused by a virus that is passed between animals & people. MPV was first detected in 1958 in a colony of research monkeys in Central and West Africa, and the first human case of Monkeypox was recorded in 1970. The virus that causes Monkeypox is in the same family as the virus that causes smallpox, and they involve similar, but less severe symptoms in the case of MPV.
The current Monkeypox outbreak is unique in that prior to 2022, Monkeypox cases were extremely rare in the U.S., and cases in individuals outside of Africa, where the virus commonly occurs, were almost always linked to international travel. In mid-May of this year, the first cases associated with the current outbreak were identified in the U.S., and it is clearly spreading now among non-travelers. On July 23rd, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Monkeypox a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). By late July, the U.S. surpassed 10,000 total cases. Continue reading