- Monkey pox has flu-like symptoms and a painful rash on the genitals.
- The regional health department is providing vaccinations free of charge.
The Cumberland County Health Department confirmed its first case of monkeypox on Monday.
The person who tested positive is in home isolation, county health director Jennifer Green said at a news conference Monday afternoon. The department is identifying and contacting people who had close contact with that patient, he said.
Green did not say how many people had close contact with the patient, citing patient confidentiality.
The infection was discovered after the patient submitted a test to the county Health Department last week, Green said. It takes a few days to test for monkeypox and the results came back on Monday, he said.
Citing patient privacy, Green did not say where or how the patient contracted the infection.
Patients with monkeypox should be isolated after the rash and pimples that do not heal or become crusted. “Once … it heals or scabs, they’re not contagious and we release them from isolation,” Green said.
Monkey pox symptoms
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, monkeypox is in the same family of viruses that cause chickenpox, but the symptoms are milder.
The CDC says most people with monkeypox develop flu-like symptoms and a rash that looks like a pimple or blister. The rash may be painful or itchy.
The rash can appear on or near the genitals and anus, but can also appear on the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth, according to the CDC.
“The rash goes through several stages before healing, including scabbing,” the CDC says.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services says the monkeypox virus can be transmitted from person to person through infected body fluids and items that come into contact with infected virus fluids.
Vaccines available:The Cumberland County Health Department offers the monkeypox vaccine to eligible residents
Symptoms and treatment:Addressing the Myths About Monkey Pox: A Review of Symptoms, Treatment, and Other Common Questions
As of Monday, there were 60 confirmed cases of the virus in North Carolina and 5,189 in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The Cumberland County Health Department continues to work with federal, state and other local partners to investigate and monitor the current national outbreak and its local impact,” the health department said in a statement.
How to get vaccinated in Cumberland County
The Department of Health plans to prescribe vaccinations against monkeys. The vaccine helps prevent monkeypox and its symptoms.
Vaccinations are free. Call 910-433-3600 to request an immunization appointment. Greene said Monday night that people can usually get the vaccine the same day they call, and that the department believes there is enough to meet the demand for those who are eligible.
Residents can call 910-433-3600 to request an appointment for testing.
Because of the limited supply, the vaccines are being given only to people deemed eligible because they are at the highest risk, Green said. Specifically:
- Anyone who has been in close physical contact with a person diagnosed with monkeypox in the last 14 days.
- A person who knows his sexual partner has monkey disease.
- Have sex with men or transgender people and in the past 90 days:
- Had multiple or anonymous sex partners.
- Or have a sexually transmitted infection.
- Or who has taken medication to prevent HIV infection.
So far it’s mostly on gay men, but anyone can catch it
Although the disease has been reported among sexually active gay men in the United States, “anyone can get monkeypox,” Green said. An epidemic that started in one group of the population may spread to other groups, he said.
“So we want everyone in the community to know what monkeypox is and what the signs and symptoms are.”
According to Greene, monkeypox is spread through close contact between people.
It will take a few hours for a face-to-face conversation, he said.
“Or it could be contact through physical contact, such as kissing, sex, or caressing,” Green said. “It can also be transmitted through skin-to-skin or indirect contact such as bedding.” The relationship should be extended, he said.
Residents with unexplained rashes, sores or other symptoms should cover up and avoid sex or close contact with anyone until they are checked by a health care provider.
North Carolina State Senior Reporter Paul Woolverton can be reached at 910-261-4710 and firstname.lastname@example.org.