Infectious disease physician weighs in on monkeypox risk for Mainers

Published: May. 20, 2022 at 5:09 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Days after a case of monkeypox emerged in Massachusetts, health officials are now investigating another possible instance in New York.

We wanted to know what, if any, risks there are to Mainers.

Dr. Mark Abel is an infectious disease physician at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center. He says monkeypox is a rare virus that’s similar to smallpox, although less severe and contagious.

Those infected usually start out with flu-like symptoms. They may eventually develop swelling of lymph nodes and a bumpy rash, especially on the face, arms, and legs.

While outbreaks have sporadically appeared in West and Central Africa, the few cases now popping up elsewhere have health officials on alert.

Still, Dr. Abel said there’s no reason for us to panic.

“The risk is really low. I don’t think Mainers should be too concerned at the moment. We’re definitely keeping an eye on this virus and we want to be vigilant, but the reality is that this is just a lot less transmissible than the respiratory viruses that we’re currently concerned with, like flu and COVID-19,” Abel said.

He says monkeypox is spread by close contact with infected people’s bodily fluids. If you have been in contact with someone showing symptoms, he says to reach out to your doctor.

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