Monkeypox is on the rise in Minnesota and across the country. All but three states now have 5,189 infections.
“I felt like I heard monkey pox and I got it and it happened so fast,” Kyle Benter said. “It’s spreading even faster now.”
Benter has been battling the virus for nearly two weeks after contacting a friend and later testing positive.
“I got it from connecting with one person,” Benter said. “A lot of people think that people out there have a ton of sex, touch a ton of people, go to clubs, go to parties or whatever.”
A graduate of the University of Minnesota, he now lives in Chicago. He said the symptoms started with fatigue and chills, but he didn’t think he was sick at first. During a visit to her regular doctor, her doctor found swollen lymph nodes. According to Benter, the sores recently started appearing all over her body.
“Every day I thought, ‘It will be better, tomorrow will be better,'” he says. “And it gets worse and worse.”
The pain was so bad that Benter went to the emergency room.
“I said, ‘For the love of God, can I do something about the pain, because it’s unbearable at the moment, it’s affecting every aspect of my life, I can’t even sleep properly,'” she said.
More than 400 cases have been reported in Illinois, the third-highest state in the country. The number of infections in Minnesota rose from 19 to 33 in one week.
“Most cases are gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Linfield. “At the moment it’s happening within the group, but it could happen to anyone in close physical contact.”
Most of the cases are in the Twin Cities metro area, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Another case has now been identified in Greater Minnesota. The infection was registered among men aged 18 to 55 years, with an average age of 37 years.
“If you or your partner have recently been sick, are currently sick, or have a new or unexplained rash, avoid skin-to-skin contact, including sex, and seek medical attention,” he said. Linfield.
The virus is spread through prolonged skin-to-skin contact, including through direct contact with the body fluids of a person who has monkeypox, scabies, or a monkeypox rash. According to Dr. According to Linfield, it can also be spread through contact with fabrics used by an infected person, including bedding, clothing or towels. In addition, respiratory droplets can transmit the disease from one person to another.
A vaccine is available for those exposed or at high risk.
According to MDH, about 3,000 doses are available across the state and another 7,600 doses are expected to be distributed over the next four to six weeks.
The two-dose Jynneos vaccine is provided by the federal government. According to MDH, it is usually not covered by non-profits or health care providers.
“We know this amount is not nearly enough for the tens of thousands of people in Minnesota who are considered high risk,” said Dr. Linfield. “A vaccine alone will not stop the spread of this epidemic, it is very important to take preventive measures in addition to the vaccine.”
MDH is distributing the vaccines it receives from the federal government to local health facilities and health departments.
“I wish there were more places to give the vaccine,” said Jamison Fang, who lives in St. Paul.
Fang called Red Door Clinic in Minneapolis to schedule the vaccine after seeing new cases of monkeypox in the Twin Cities, including among friends a month ago.
“Since the outbreak came to the United States, it’s only been in my mind, but after some of my friends reported contracting the virus in Minneapolis, I became concerned about the spread of the virus,” Fang said. “I just want to be proactive and protect myself and my friends from the virus.”
Fang received his first dose last week and will return for a second dose in a month. According to health officials, the two doses are given approximately 28 days apart.
“The vaccine itself is quick and easy, painless […] “I have no side effects,” Fang said. “I don’t want anyone to get this disease, so be proactive and get vaccinated.”
Benter also encourages people to seek a vaccine to prevent further spread.
“It’s trauma, it’s really bad,” Benter said of the pain. “It’s really important to get out there and get the vaccine.”