“Wash your hands!” to minimise your risk of getting Monkeypox – is Twitter’s sensible advice turned meme as California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a State of Emergency to stop the disease’s spread.

California joined two other states – New York and Illinois – in making statewide declarations about Monkeypox.

As the news hits home, some Twitter users are going into a tailspin examining every inch of skin, especially their hands, where signs of the disease usually appear.

Other commenters meanwhile are taking a practical approach, urging each other to “wash your hands” to avoid Monkeypox.

Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

‘Wash your hands!’ to avoid Monkeypox

As California joins two other states in declaring a State of Emergency about Monkeypox, Twitter has uncharacteristically sound advice for panicking users: “Wash your hands!”

This echoes recent advice from the CDC, which also recommends avoiding direct contact with someone who could have the disease and with their personal belongings, as well as avoiding crowds and choosing well-ventilated spaces when out in public.

Monkeypox blisters and the fluid inside them are extremely contagious and can easily be spread by shaking hands, hugging, intimate contact, as well as touching the same objects and surfaces as someone infected. Personal items like clothing, towels, bedding, toiletries, eating utensils and cups should not be shared to avoid transmission.

The CDC adds that washing or sanitising your hands is vital, especially before eating or touching your face, and after using the bathroom.

Evidence suggests Monkeypox can also be spread through respiratory droplets, so using a mask is a safe bet when in close quarters with someone infected, or in large crowds.

What does Monkeypox on your hands look like?

As it’s a virus in the pox family, Monkeypox’s defining symptom is a rash, usually on the hands, feet, face and around the genitals. Other signs to look out for include fever, head and muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion, chills and respiratory symptoms such as a blocked nose or a cough.

If you’ve been exposed to the virus, you may start to show symptoms within three weeks. In some cases, the rash can appear first, followed by the other symptoms, while others start with a general feeling of being very unwell before developing a rash.

The Monkeypox rash, which often appears on the hands, face and other extremities, looks like pimples or blisters that over time fill up with liquid and then eventually scab over and heal. The rash may be painful or itchy and is extremely contagious to touch.

While in previous outbreaks, Monkeypox blisters appeared to spread to the hands and feet first, many recent cases have reported a rash that starts around their genitals and on their face. Sometimes these are the only symptoms a patient has and the rash doesn’t spread to other parts of the body, while in other recent cases the blisters are smaller and look more like pimples or blisters, the CDC said in a June report.

Is Monkeypox an STI?

Due to the route of transmission most common in the 2022 US outbreak, some experts are debating whether Monkeypox could be classed as an STI in future. “It clearly is spreading as an STI (sexually transmitted infection) at this point,” Dr. Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told ABC News.

However, that could lead to misconceptions about the virus’s mode of transmission, as Monkeypox is spread through all kinds of close contact with anyone infected – from handshakes to sex, and sharing personal items.

Many US cases have been reported in men who have sex with other men, including gay and bisexual men, but that does not mean Monkeypox is an STI, CNN reports. Public health officials are making efforts to reduce the stigma against LGBTQ communities while focusing prevention efforts on those most affected by Monkeypox.

“Our team is also committed to reducing stigma among the LGBTQ community, which has been singled out and treated unfairly because of this outbreak. No single individual or community is to blame for the spread of any virus. Monkeypox can affect anyone as it spreads by skin-to-skin contact, as well as from sharing items like clothing, bedding and towels,” California Public Health Officer Dr. Tomás Aragón said in a statement last week.

What does California’s State of Emergency mean?

On Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a State of Emergency in an effort to stem the spread of the virus. So far, the US has recorded more than 5,800 probable or confirmed cases of Monkeypox, 800 of which are in California.

The governor’s declaration is meant to accelerate vaccination efforts across the state by expanding the pool of people who can administer the vaccine to include emergency medical services personnel.

“California is working urgently across all levels of government to slow the spread of monkeypox, leveraging our robust testing, contact tracing and community partnerships strengthened during the pandemic to ensure that those most at risk are our focus for vaccines, treatment and outreach,” Gov Newsom said in a news release.

However, much of the US is battling a vaccine shortage. According to Gov. Newsom, California has received more than 61,000 vaccine doses so far and distributed more than 25,000.

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