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Healthwise Maui

Q: What is monkeypox and should we be concerned?

Kelly Catiel, Infection Control Manager, Maui Health: Monkeypox is a rare disease endemic to Central and West Africa caused by the orthopoxvirus. It was first discovered in the 1950s. An outbreak of monkeypox cases was noted in May in the United Kingdom and since that time has resulted in an additional 1,872 confirmed cases worldwide with 65 cases in the United States, including three probable cases and two laboratory-confirmed cases in Hawaii.

Monkeypox transmission occurs when a person contracts the virus from an animal, human or materials (clothing included) contaminated with the virus. And while called monkeypox, it is predominantly spread by rodents. The virus can enter the body through broken skin (even if not visible), the respiratory tract or the mucous membranes. Incubation in the body is typically seven to 14 days after exposure but can range from five to 21 days following exposure. If you were exposed, you will first develop flu-like symptoms and then develop a rash.

Currently, there is no proven treatment for a monkeypox virus infection. However, antivirals developed for use in patients with smallpox have shown some efficacy at protecting against monkeypox.

Experts continue to study the disease. Right now for us, prevention is key. Some tips include:

• Avoid contact with commonly infected animals, whether live or dead. This includes rodents such as rats and squirrels, or monkeys and apes.

• Practice strict hand hygiene.

• Don’t share bedding with someone who may be infected.

• For health care workers, we have specific protocols for treatment of suspected or confirmed disease including proper PPE usage.

And remember, get your information and updates from reliable sources like the CDC.

Q: What is the difference between hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism?

Dr. Travis Glenn, Family Medicine, Glenn Family Medicine: The thyroid is a gland in your neck that is important for regulating the hormones that control metabolism. When the thyroid isn’t functioning properly, and these hormones become unbalanced, it can cause several health problems.

Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid produces too much hormones, causing your metabolism to become overactive. This can be caused by medical conditions including Graves’ disease, or by nodules on the thyroid.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include a racing heartbeat, shaking, sweating, muscle weakness and weight loss. You may also feel restless, irritable or anxious, and other symptoms may include brittle hair and nails, and thin skin.

With hypothyroidism, the opposite problem occurs. The thyroid does not produce enough hormones, and your metabolism slows down. This can be caused by Hashimoto’s disease, or when your thyroid gland has been damaged by surgery or radiation.

Symptoms can include fatigue, weight gain, depression, weakness, slower heart rate, dry skin, constipation and sensitivity to cold. In severe cases it can lead to a coma.

Fortunately, both of these conditions are treatable with medication or surgery. If you think you may have a thyroid problem, talk with your doctor about getting a diagnosis.

• Physicians, providers and administrative staff who practice at Maui Health System hospitals and clinics answer questions from the public in “Healthwise Maui,” which appears on Thursdays. Maui Health System operates Maui Memorial Medical Center, Maui Memorial Medical Center Outpatient Clinic, Kula Hospital & Clinic and Lana’i Community Hospital and accepts all patients. To submit a question, go to the website at mauihealth.org/ healthwise.

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