Šistockphoto.com/zoranm

The US government has declared the monkeypox outbreak a national public health emergency and so far, it has reached 13 NJ counties. The virus, which is in the same viral category as smallpox, but is not as serious, causes pimple-like bumps and fever, fatigue and other flu-like symptoms, according to the CDC.

Cases of monkeypox have been diagnosed in 13 counties: Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Essex, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset and Union.

As of Friday, Hudson County had the most cases of any county with a total of 67. Cases have continued to rise not only in NJ but throughout the country.

Monkeypox is not an airborne disease, but it can be spread through droplets and saliva. Residents should continue good handwashing practices and stay home if they are sick. Those who are high-risk for contracting the virus, including men who have sex with men and anyone exposed to someone sick with the virus, could try and get vaccinated, though vaccine supplies have been limited in our state.

Here are some more facts about monkeypox:

What does it look like?

“People with monkeypox get a rash that may be located on or near the genitals (penis, testicles, labia and vagina) or anus (butthole) and could be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face or mouth,” says the CDC. The rash will go through several stages including scabbing and healing and may initially look like pimples or blisters.

How long does it last?
“Monkeypox symptoms usually start within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus,” says the CDC. “If someone has flu-like symptoms, they will usually develop a rash 1-4 days later.” The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.

Can kids get monkeypox?
Yes, though it is not likely. So far, the virus appears to be prevalent in men who have sex with men, though anyone who has contact with someone with a monkeypox rash is at risk. Children under age 8 could be at risk for more severe illness if they contract the virus.

What’s the treatment?
There is no approved treatment, though antiviral medications can be prescribed by a doctor.

How can I keep my family safe?
Avoid closed contact with anyone who has monkeypox and continue good handwashing and hygiene habits.