The World Health Organization has declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency. The recommendation comes after outbreaks across the global community have caused many to take the virus more seriously.
That includes Arizona. The United States has seen a steady increase in reported cases over the course of the summer now almost reaching 5,000 confirmed cases nationally.
The rise in cases has led the Biden administration to announce that an additional 780,000 doses of the vaccine will be available Friday. Those doses will add to the 300,000 doses distributed this month, bringing the total to 1.1 million.
Here is what you need to know about the monkeypox virus, vaccine and how to stay safe.
What is monkeypox and how do you get it?
Monkeypox is not a new virus. It was discovered in 1958 in a colony of monkeys that were being researched on. Though it’s named “monkeypox” the actual origins of the virus are actually not clear.
The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970. The virus has since then shown up mostly in central and western African countries where it is an endemic, meaning it has persistently infected people but has not been a huge cause of alarm. Before 2022, infections outside of this region of the world have largely been due to international travel.
The monkeypox virus is similar to smallpox, both being from the same family of the variola virus. Symptoms for monkeypox are milder than smallpox and rarely fatal.
What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
If you have been looking up what monkeypox is you have probably come across images of individuals with lesions like blisters and rashes on their bodies. But there are other things to look out for as well.
Symptoms for monkeypox are similar to those seen in smallpox.
Here are the most common symptoms the CDC has outlined:
- Muscle aches and backache
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
- A rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appear on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.
The symptoms may not always be noticeable and you may not experience everything listed above. In some cases, these lesions have been reported as very painful and potentially scarring.
How does monkeypox spread?
There are multiple ways that this virus has been observed spread, mainly through physical contact and respiratory droplets. Monkeypox can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.
Person-to-person contact through rashes, scabs or fluids are examples of potential spread. Touching items that were previously been touched by infected rashes or fluids can also spread the virus.
Contact with infected animals is another way the virus spreads. Being scratched or bitten by an infected animal or by consuming products from an infected animal.
How to avoid monkeypox
Preventing the spread of monkeypox is similar to what we have been doing to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Washing your hands after coming in contact with someone, wearing a mask in crowded indoor spaces and staying home when you are sick are the best ways to stay safe.
Is monkeypox an std?
There’s been a number of outbreaks across the country that were traced to LGBTQIA+ sexually active men. This has led some to think that this is a sexually transmitted disease.
However, this is not the case.
The monkeypox virus is not classified as an STI, but due to the close contact during sex through which we know monkeypox can be spread outbreaks have occurred.
Classifying this virus can present a false sense of security. In an interview with Healthline, Dr. Michelle Forcier a clinician with FOLX Health explains that misinformation on how the virus is spread is harmful towards gay and bisexual men.
“The monkeypox rumors are harmful because they isolate and seem to ‘blame’ a particular group of persons for spreading this infection,” Forcier says. “Calling the monkeypox virus an STI and linking it to our culture’s view of sex as scary or shameful may keep persons exposed or infected from getting medical attention.”
How many cases of monkeypox have there been in Arizona?
The CDC has reported 50 total cases of the monkeypox virus in Arizona. A total of 4,907 cases have been confirmed across the United States.
You can see the total case count using the CDC’s mapping tool here.
As of July 28, 2022, there have been a total of 32 confirmed case of monkeypox. An additional 15 cases are noted as probable by the Maricopa County of Department of Public Health.
The first confirmed case of the virus was reported back on June 7.
More:More than 2,000 monkeypox vaccine doses given in Maricopa County
Is there a vaccine for monkeypox?
Heathcare professionals are currently combatting the monkeypox virus by inoculating communities at most risk. Across Arizona approximately 2,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered with more vaccine drives scheduled for the following weeks.
The JYNEEOS vaccine also known as Imvamune or Imvanex has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for preventing the monkeypox virus. A second vaccine ACAM2000 for use against the smallpox virus has also been made available for use against monkeypox.
To be fully vaccinated with JYNNEOS you must get two doses with four weeks in between each one. Innoculation occurs two weeks after the second dose.
More:More than 2,000 monkeypox vaccine doses given in Maricopa County; more vaccination events scheduled
Sonia Singh of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health says that the county has administered more than 2,100 doses from an allocation of 2,900 vaccines. There currently is a limited supply of the vaccine, but more is expected to be made available in the coming weeks.
Where can I get the monkeypox vaccine in Arizona?
Vaccine eligibility is extremely limited at the moment. The vaccine is being offered to groups who are at higher risk to being exposed.
The Maricopa County Health Department will be hosting two vaccination drives in Phoenix in the next week. On Aug. 3 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Aug. 5 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Maricopa County Public Health Clinic located at 1645 E. Roosevelt St. in Phoenix. MCDPH will be hosting two vaccination drives in Phoenix in the next week. On Aug. 3 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Aug. 5 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Maricopa County Public Health Clinic located at 1645 E. Roosevelt St. in Phoenix.
In an interview with The Arizona Republic’s health reporter Stephanie Innes, Dr. Nick Staab a medical epidemiologist for the Maricopa County Department of Public Health said, “Ideally, with more vaccine supply, we’ll be able to give this to individuals who are at high risk but who have not necessarily been in contact with a case. That’s often referred to as pre-exposure prophylaxis.”
More:Monkeypox vaccine’s limited supply concerns health officials as cases rise in Arizona
The Maricopa County Department of Public Health is handling the current doses of the vaccines. Here are the guidelines for who they are making vaccines available to:
- Individuals who identify as:
- Gay or bisexual men OR
- Other (cis or trans) men OR
- Trans women
and who have
- intimate or sexual contact with other men in a social or sexual venue OR
- multiple or anonymous partners OR
- Anyone who shares a household with a person who tested positive for monkeypox
Filling out this form from Maricopa County Health will let them know you are interested in receiving this vaccine. They stress that, “As there is a limited supply, completing this survey is not a guarantee of receiving a vaccine”.
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Have a question you need answered? Reach the reporter at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @raphaeldelag.
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