Transmission can also occur through prolonged face-to-face contact with contaminated materials, such as bedding or clothing, though this is less common.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are milder, but similar to, smallpox symptoms, and monkeypox is rarely fatal.
Globally, monkeypox has reached over 21,000 confirmed cases in over 70 countries, prompting the World Health Organization to declare it a global health emergency. There are over 20,000 cases in 71 countries that have not historically reported monkeypox.
While no cases have reached the Miami Valley as of Friday morning, the U.S. is ramping up the availability of vaccines and tests. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced on Thursday its plans to distribute 786,000 doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine for monkeypox, which is approved for use by the FDA. This is in addition to 338,000 vaccines the department has already distributed across the U.S.
“Every American should pay attention on monkeypox,” Xavier Becerra, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said during a telebriefing on Thursday.
Dawn O’Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said the U.S. has also ordered an additional 5.5 million vaccines, having access to a total of 6.9 million vaccines by mid 2023. If the vaccines aren’t used for monkeypox, they can also go toward the country’s smallpox preparedness program, officials said.
“We want to stay ahead of the virus and end the outbreak,” Becerra said.
The vaccines are currently being targeted at individuals who are most at risk. In Ohio, vaccines are being given specifically to individuals considered close contacts of those who have contracted monkeypox, and local health departments will be working directly with those individuals.
“If you’re a close contact of somebody, then we’ll be contacting you,” said Dan Suffoletto, public information manager of Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County.
Additionally, the U.S. has also increased its testing capacity. Becerra said the U.S. has gone from a testing capacity to conduct 6,000 monkeypox tests a week to being able to do 60,000 to 80,000 tests a week.
According to health officials, symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion, as well as rash and lesions that can look like pimples progressing to blisters/pustules that appear on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus. The illness can last two to four weeks. Individuals who are experiencing symptoms of monkeypox should contact their health providers.
The Warren County Health District advised that young children under the age of 8, children with eczema and other skin conditions, and children and adults with immunocompromising conditions may be at increased risk of the severe disease.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said treatments have been administered and provided to a little less than 10,000 Americans and the U.S. has a stockpile of 1.7 million treatments.
In order to prevent the spread of monkeypox, the CDC is advising people should avoid close skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox; they should not not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox; and people should also wash their hands often or use hand sanitizer.
Most cases associated with the monkeypox investigation in the United States have occurred among men who have sex with men, according to the Ohio Department of Health, but health officials note anyone can get monkeypox.
For more information on monkeypox, visit www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/symptoms.html.