As an infectious disease, Monkeypox can become a new source of exposure claims in the workers’ compensation realm. Like Smallpox, Monkeypox has common symptoms, including rash, fever, chills, and muscle aches. Symptoms usually develop within three weeks of exposure and can last between two and four weeks. Monkeypox is primarily spread through skin-to-skin contact or infected bodily fluids. Still, it can also spread by direct contact with contaminated objects that an infected person has touched and even via contact with infected animals.
Unlike the COVID-19 outbreak, a novel virus that at the time did not have any treatments or vaccines (which have since been developed), Monkeypox is an established disease known for over sixty years. Traditionally, outbreaks of cases have been limited to countries in Africa, but that changed in May 2022, when this current Monkeypox outbreak began. Unlike past outbreaks, this one is spreading rapidly in countries that do not typically see the disease. With over 7,000 cases in the United States, President Joe Biden declared the current outbreak a public health emergency on August 5th, 2022.
PREVENTION AND TREATMENT
Fortunately, we already have vaccines and medications that can be used to prevent and treat Monkeypox. Jynneos™ is the only vaccine currently approved by the FDA for Monkeypox prevention. “ACAM2000” is another vaccine currently FDA-approved for Smallpox prevention only, but it is also being used off-label for Monkeypox prevention.
There are currently no medications approved by the FDA in the United States to treat Monkeypox viral infections. However, other antivirals, including TPOXX (Tecovirimat) that are used for Smallpox, have off-label uses for Monkeypox.
RELEVANCE TO THE WORKERS’ COMP INDUSTRY
As with any occupational infectious exposure risk, high-risk employees must follow infection prevention training practices, employ universal precautions, and wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to mitigate risk. Similar to how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the healthcare sector because of frontline workers treating infected patients, this outbreak could also create a new category of exposure injury claims. Given the size of the current Monkeypox outbreak, it is improbable it would affect the industry in the same magnitude. Monkeypox is harder to spread than COVID-19 and easier to trace and detect.
CORVEL CLINICAL TEAM INPUT
The current outbreak of Monkeypox is undoubtedly cause for concern both nationally and globally. At CorVel, we will continue monitoring the situation, including treatment/vaccine access updates, claim activity, and relevant regulatory activity. If and when the vaccines become more available, we will explore adding them to our exposure injury formularies.
For more on CorVel’s action plan in response to the Monkeypox outbreak, read our full report by Ryan Hamm, PharmD, RPh, Clinical Pharmacist at CorVel, here.