Monkeypox is a rare but potentially serious viral disease that can be spread from animals to humans, and from human to human through respiratory or close contact with bodily fluids. The symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, and a rash that often starts on the face and then spreads to other parts of the body. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people with monkeypox remain isolated at home or another location for the duration of illness to prevent transmission to others. In this article, we will discuss some tips for caregivers and family members on how to manage monkeypox at home.
Isolation of People with Monkeypox
The primary goal of managing monkeypox at home is to prevent transmission to others. Therefore, people with monkeypox should follow CDC's isolation and prevention practices until the infection has resolved. This includes avoiding close contact with others, avoiding close contact with pets in the home and other animals, not engaging in sexual activity that involves direct physical contact, not sharing potentially contaminated items, such as bed linens, clothing, towels, washcloths, drinking glasses or eating utensils, and routinely cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces and items.
If possible, people with monkeypox should isolate in a room or area separate from other household members and pets. They should also limit the use of spaces, items, and food that are shared with other household members. If there is no separate bathroom in the home, the patient should clean and disinfect surfaces such as counters, toilet seats, and faucets after using a shared space. The patient should also avoid contaminating upholstered furniture and other porous materials that cannot be laundered by placing coversheets, waterproof mattress covers, blankets, or tarps over these surfaces.
Hand Hygiene, Source Control, and Personal Protective Equipment
Hand hygiene, source control, and personal protective equipment are essential for preventing the spread of monkeypox. People with monkeypox and household contacts should perform hand hygiene after touching rash material, clothing, linens, or environmental surfaces that may have had contact with rash material. They should cover all skin rashes to the extent possible by wearing long sleeves or long pants. Gloves can be considered for covering rash on the hands when not in isolation such as when receiving medical care. People with monkeypox should use well-fitting source control (e.g., medical mask), if close contact with others cannot be avoided, such as when receiving medical care. Other household members should wear a respirator or a well-fitting mask when in close contact (e.g., within 6 feet) with the person with monkeypox for more than a brief encounter.
When possible, the person with monkeypox should change their own bandages and handle contaminated linens while wearing disposable gloves, followed by immediate handwashing after removing gloves. If assistance is needed with these activities, a household member should avoid extensive contact and wear, at a minimum, disposable medical gloves and a well-fitting mask or respirator.
Routinely cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces and items, such as counters or light switches, using an EPA-registered disinfectant (such as List Q) in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions is crucial for preventing the spread of monkeypox in the home. Additional precautions such as steam cleaning can be considered if there is concern about contamination.
Considerations for Isolating with Animals in the Home
People with monkeypox should avoid contact with animals (specifically mammals), including pets. If possible, friends or family members should care for healthy animals until the owner has fully recovered. Keep any potentially infectious bandages, textiles (such as clothes, bedding) and other items away from pets and other domestic animals.
Additional Precautions for Caregivers and Family Members
In addition to following the isolation and infection control measures described above, caregivers and family members can take additional precautions to reduce the risk of transmission of monkeypox:
It is important to closely monitor the symptoms of the infected person and report any changes or worsening symptoms to a healthcare provider. Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, and a rash that often begins on the face and then spreads to the trunk and limbs.
Seek Medical Attention
If the infected person’s symptoms worsen or they develop difficulty breathing, they should seek medical attention immediately. Caregivers and family members should also seek medical attention if they develop symptoms of monkeypox.
Limit Contact with Others
Caregivers and family members should limit contact with others outside the home as much as possible to reduce the risk of spreading the infection. This may include working from home, avoiding social gatherings, and limiting contact with friends and family.
Practice Good Hygiene
Caregivers and family members should practice good hand hygiene by washing their hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. They should also avoid touching their face, mouth, and eyes.
Wear Personal Protective Equipment
When caring for the infected person, caregivers and family members should wear personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, masks, and gowns, as recommended by healthcare providers. They should also dispose of PPE and other contaminated materials properly.
Follow Healthcare Provider Recommendations
Caregivers and family members should follow the recommendations of healthcare providers, including taking any medications as prescribed, attending follow-up appointments, and reporting any new symptoms or concerns.
Monkeypox is a rare and potentially serious viral infection that requires isolation and infection control measures to prevent transmission. Caregivers and family members can play an important role in managing monkeypox by following the recommendations of healthcare providers, practicing good hygiene, and taking additional precautions to reduce the risk of transmission. If you or a family member has been diagnosed with monkeypox, it is important to closely follow the recommendations of healthcare providers to ensure a full recovery and prevent the spread of infection.