When you think it's safe to get back on an airplane, there is a potential outbreak of a disease called monkeypox. You are not the only one wondering what this ominous-sounding virus is, how to avoid contracting it, and if this will change your summer travel plans.

On May 6, doctors confirmed that a British citizen who arrived from Nigeria two days earlier had symptoms of monkeypox, a disease that can be contracted a week or two after exposure. There are a number of symptoms, including skin rash, fatigue, headaches, high fever, shivering, swollen lysy and muscle pains.

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What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox can be transmitted through bodily fluids, direct contact with skin, or through clothing, towels or bedding, but it can also be transmitted through respiratory droplets. The illness lasts two to four weeks.

The CDC has recently issued a monkeypox alert for travelers, raising the risk classification from level 1 to level 2, if it gets to level 3.

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Even though the alert is disconcerting, especially as we continue to face ongoing COVID concerns, the risk to the general public remains extremely low at this time.

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The virus is detected in African monkeys and spread to humans through biting and scratching © Lidia fotografie / Shutterstock

Are there destinations that are higher risk of monkeypox?

There have been 257 confirmed cases in the countries of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Scotland, and Slovenia.

The CDC says that monkeypox is more common in central and western Africa.

Europe dropped its mask mandate, but Spain and Italy are still covering their faces.

Travelers should be aware of the illness, how it is spread, and be careful to avoid known contacts. It's important that hotel bedding and towels are clean.

What to do if you think you catch monkeypox when traveling

Anyone who has recently traveled to central and west African countries should contact their healthcare provider immediately, according to the CDC. Travelers should avoid eating wild game, particularly bush meat, and avoid contact with live or dead animals, particularly rodents, according to the CDC.

Woman getting covid 190 vaccine Narumon Bowonkitwanchai GettyImages-1311109232 rfc.jpg
A  monkeypox vaccine was developed in 2019  © Narumon Bowonkitwanchai / Getty Images

Is there a vaccine for monkeypox?

There are a number of vaccines that are effective against monkeypox, according to the WHO website. The manufacturer is working with WHO to improve access to the vaccine. The WHO and other health organizations are not currently suggesting the general public to get the monkeypox vaccine.

Most travel insurance policies will cover monkeypox treatment, but be sure to read through the fine print on your policy or call the travel insurance company to find out.

If you think you have been exposed or if you have unexplained skin symptoms, don't hesitate to get checked out.