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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Dr Angelica L Dumapit and Physician Brandon Yew on July 18, 2022

All You Need To Know About Monkey Pox

The Monkey Pox virus causes flu-like symptoms and a rash that may take weeks to clear. Here's what you need to know about this viral infection, including tips for staying healthy.

Monkey pox test min scaled

Monkey Pox is a viral disease that mostly occurs in parts of Africa. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently declared Monkey Pox an international emergency as the virus has spread around the world, including the United States.

As of July 22, 2022, there have been 2,891 reported cases in the U.S. with no reported deaths. However, some major news outlets are reporting that the virus is spreading faster than the data about it, making it hard to track and control.

Monkey Pox is characterized by flu-like symptoms. It may also cause a rash on various parts of your body that may take weeks to clear.

In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about Monkey Pox. Our experts also provide tips for keeping yourself healthy to avoid getting sick.

What Is Monkey Pox?

The virus is characterized by a rash that may occur all over the body.

Monkey Pox is a rare infection caused by the Monkey Pox virus. Similar to small pox, it belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus. However, it is not related to chicken pox, which is caused by the Varicella-zoster virus.

The virus was first discovered in 1958 when an outbreak occurred in laboratory monkeys. The first human outbreak was recovered in 1970.

Since then, most cases have occurred in people around central and western African countries.

However, the current 2022 outbreak has led to cases in many Western regions, including the United States and the United Kingdom.

Symptoms

Symptoms of Monkey Pox include flu-like symptoms, such as:

After a few days, a rash may develop. The rash can be located anywhere on your body, including the mouth, vagina, and anus.

It’s characterized by painful, flat, red bumps that may turn into pus-filled blisters. Eventually, these blisters crust over and dry out. However, this may take 2 to 4 weeks to clear on its own.

Keep in mind that not everyone will experience the same symptoms. In fact, the current 2022 Monkey Pox outbreak isn’t following the current pattern of symptoms.

For example, some people who are infected only have a few lesions with no swollen lymph nodes. They also have less fever and other signs of infection. Meanwhile, others have lesions followed by symptoms and others only experience a rash.

You may have it and not know it. However, you can still spread the virus even if you are sympathetic.

How is it spread?

Monkey Pox can be spread from person to person through close contact with someone who has symptoms.

You can contract the virus by coming into contact with an infected person’s body fluids, rash, scabs, and even objects that they have touched.

The virus can also be spread by coming into contact with infected animals, such as rodents and primates.

Therefore, it’s best to avoid interacting with wildlife. Also, ensure that your meat and food that contains animal parts are cooked thoroughly.

Is it deadly?

The current 2022 outbreak is caused by the less severe West African genus. At the time of this writing, no one has died from Monkey Pox.

However, the condition can lead to more serious complications, such as brain infections, pneumonia, and eye infections. These can be deadly if left untreated.

Most cases of Monkey Pox will run their course within 2 to 4 weeks. Some protection against the virus can be provided by the small pox vaccine.

You may also wish to take steps toward boosting your immune system during this time. There are many herbal immune-boosting supplements available to help reduce symptoms and strengthen the body’s resistance to infections.

However, you should always consult your doctor if you think you may be infected. He or she can properly diagnose you and start immediate treatment to limit the severity of the disease.

Western Medicine Treatment Options

Swollen lymph nodes usually distinguish Monkey Pox from other viruses. If you think you may have it, your doctor will likely perform tests to rule out measles or chicken pox. For a proper Monkey Pox diagnosis, your doctor will take a sample from an open sore or lesion. You may also be diagnosed after a blood test.

According to the Centers For Disease and Prevention Control (CDC), there is no specific treatment for Monkey Pox. From a Western medicine perspective, you can take antiviral drugs and vaccines to prevent severe infection. Currently, there is no vaccine available for Monkey Pox, but you may talk to your doctor about getting the small pox vaccine.

Your doctor may recommend tecovirimat (TPOXX), which is an antiviral drug that may help prevent you from getting severely ill. Other treatments will focus on managing your symptoms. In most cases, no treatment at all is necessary as the virus will run its course within 2 to 4 weeks.

Monkey Pox Pathology, According To TCM

TCM treatment can help strengthen the lungs to reduce respiratory symptoms, such as coughing.

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, Monkey Pox is an acute infection of contagious exogenous pathogens that bears the characteristics of Wind, Fire and Dampness.

The organ that is mainly affected is the Lungs, which oversees the health of the respiratory tract and skin. This explains the respiratory flu-like symptoms and characteristic skin rash when one is infected with the Monkey Pox virus.

Other organs that may be affected in severe cases are the Heart, Spleen and Liver. 

How Can TCM Help With Monkey Pox?

TCM can effectively manage the symptoms of Monkey Pox and help with recovery through herbal medication, acupuncture, and blood-letting.

These methods are carefully formulated by a TCM physician to address the unique body constitution of every patient. Hence, it’s best to always first consult with a TCM physician for proper assessment. 

Herbal formulas that help with symptoms

Below are some TCM herbal formulas that can help manage the symptoms during acute infection: 

  • Sheng Ma Ge Gen Tang: Dispels Wind and Fire toxins from the Lungs and Skin 
  • Xie Huang San: Alleviates Dampness and Fire toxins from the Lungs, Skin and Spleen 
  • Sheng Jiang San: Purges Wind, Fire toxins, Phlegm, Stagnated Qi and Blood clots from the Lungs, Skin and Liver 
  • Zi Xue San: Dispels Fire toxins, Dampness and Stagnated Qi from the Lungs and Skin, and soothes the Heart and Liver 
  • Qing Ying Tang: Neutralizes Fire toxins and Blood clots from the Heart; replenishes Yin to nourish and calm the Heart and Liver 
  • Sheng Ma Bie Jia Tang: Dispels Fire toxins and Blood clots from the Lungs, Skin, Heart and Liver 
  • Xuan Bai Cheng Qi Tang: Purges Fire toxins and Phlegm from the Lungs and Skin 

Herbal formulas that help with post-recovery

Below are some TCM herbal formulas that can help with post-disease recovery: 

  • Sheng Mai San: Replenishes lost Qi and Yin energies of the Lungs and Heart 
  • Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang: Regenerates Spleen Qi; dispels residual Dampness and Phlegm 
  • Qin Jiao Bie Jia San: Dispels residual Fire and regenerates lost Yin to nourish the Lungs, Heart and Liver 
  • Bu Yang Huan Wu Tang: Dispels residual Blood clots and regenerates Qi of the Lungs, Spleen and Heart 
  • Ba Zhen Tang: Replenishes lost Qi and Blood of the Lungs, Heart, Spleen and Liver 

According to Senior TCM Physician Brandon Yew, “All of the herbal remedies listed can individually address the various symptoms of Monkey Pox. Each corresponds to the different pathological combinations and states underlying the virus.”

“Please always bear in mind that the herbal formulas provided above are meant for varying pathological states of Monkey Pox and post-disease. They correspond to different body constitutions that are characterized by underlying unique imbalances. As such, it is strongly advised not to purchase any of them to self-medicate without first consulting a certified TCM professional. He or she will assess your unique body constitution and current medical state and advise you accordingly,” he warned.

Acupressure

Acupressure is an easy self-help remedy you can do at home. Start by placing fingers or blunt object like a massage stick at certain acupoints.

Apply an appropriate amount of pressure to elicit a tolerable sensation of soreness or tenderness. At the same time, massage in both clockwise and anticlockwise circular motion 20 times each. Repeat for at least 3 minutes per acupoint.

The acupoints that might help are: 

  • To relieve fever: Chi Ze (LU 5), Qu Chi (LI 11), He Gu (LI 4), Nei Guan (PC 6), Xue Hai (SP 10), and Tai Chong (LR 3)
  • For sore throat: Chi Ze (LU 5), Qu Chi (LI 11), and He Gu (LI 4)
  • To reduce skin lesions: Chi Ze (LU 5), Qu Chi (LI 11), Nei Guan (PC 6), Xue Hai (SP 10), Yin Ling Quan (SP 9), and Tai Chong (LR 3)
  • For body aches: Qu Chi (LI 11), He Gu (LI 4), Xue Hai (SP 10), Yin Ling Quan (SP 9), and Zu San Li (ST 36)
  • For headaches: Qu Chi (LI 11), He Gu (LI 4), and Tai Chong (LR 3)
  • To alleviate fatigue: He Gu (LI 4), Nei Guan (PC 6), Yin Ling Quan (SP 9), and Zu San Li (ST 36)
  • To enhance appetite: Nei Guan (PC 6), Yin Ling Quan (SP 9), and Zu San Li (ST 36)

Do take note that acupressure provides very mild symptomatic relief. As people suffering from Monkey Pox have characteristic skin rashes, acupressure is to be performed with extra care and caution.

Thus, it is strongly recommended to seek professional medical help from a certified TCM practitioner in conjunction with a medical doctor, especially if the symptoms persist and are of greater severity. 

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