MSDH provides briefing on monkeypox response

Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 7:55 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi is one of the last states to identify a case of monkeypox. But now public health officials are explaining what the next steps are since the first reported case.

They aren’t revealing where the state’s first case is located but say the individual got it out of state. And it doesn’t seem they’ve given it to anyone else in Mississippi.

”It is likely that we will see additional cases of monkeypox identified in the state,” said Dr. Paul Byers, Mississippi State Epidemiologist.

Let’s start by clearing up who can get the virus.

“We have seen many of the cases among men who have sex with men,” noted Byers. “That doesn’t mean that that is the only population that can be at risk for infection. And so it’s important for us to understand that anybody can get monkeypox.”

So how do you avoid getting it? While skin-to-skin contact is the most common way it’s spread through touching the rash or fluids from it, that doesn’t cover everything.

There can be respiratory transmission through prolonged close contact like kissing, cuddling, or sex.

“But it can also be transmitted through contact with items or materials that have had direct contact or been contaminated by the fluid from those infectious rashes, like things like towels or linens,” added Byers.

It usually takes one to two weeks after exposure before someone starts spreading monkeypox. But not to worry. They aren’t contagious till symptoms show up. It often starts with flu-like symptoms and then a rash may show up that could look like blisters or pimples.

“Symptoms usually last. It can be anywhere from two to four weeks,” said Byers. “But a person is contagious. Until that rash completely resolves. And when the rash goes away and individuals no longer considered infectious.”

There are vaccines but for now, the Mississippi State Department of Health explains that those are only for people with a known monkeypox exposure.

“Given that vaccine, especially within the first four days after contact, it can prevent the infection,” noted Byers. “But if it’s given within the first couple of weeks after contact, it can reduce potential symptoms that may occur.”

Those eligible for the vaccine could later expand. But not right now, Mississippi only has 600 doses. And because it’s a two-dose series, that will only cover 300 people.

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