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As monkeypox spreads in Indiana, no cases reported in Howard Co

Kokomo Tribune - 8/2/2022

Aug. 2—Fifty-four cases of monkeypox have been reported in the state, but Howard County health officials say the disease hasn't made it to Kokomo.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported there were 54 cases in Indiana as of Monday. People infected with the illness ranged in age from 2 to 55, the Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) announced Friday, when there were only 45 cases in the state.

Jennifer Sexton, the county's public health nursing manager, said the county hasn't received any of the 3,232 doses of Jynneos vaccine available to health departments around the state.

She said the vaccine allotment is primarily being used to treat people who are close contacts of monkeypox cases to help prevent severe disease. Any remaining vaccine is being used for those who are at high risk for severe illness or exposure, such as HIV patients.

The IDOH said additional doses of the vaccine are expected soon, and eligibility will be expanded to groups at high risk for exposure as supplies increase.

The county does have monkeypox tests available that physicians or hospitals can request if they have a patient they think might have the disease, but no doctor has yet to ask for a test, Sexton said.

Howard County Health Officer Dr. Emily Backer said that at this point, people shouldn't be alarmed about monkeypox, but should be aware of it.

"Because it is mostly spread by skin to skin and very close contact, it doesn't really have the potential to see the type of spread that we have seen with COVID," she said in an email. "However, it can be a very serious illness."

Backer said vaccination and treatment are available, but are best used early in the course of the disease. Anyone with a new onset rash consistent with monkeypox should contact their healthcare provider, she said.

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus, which is part of the same family of viruses as smallpox, according to the IDOH.

Symptoms are similar to smallpox, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal. The illness typically begins with fever, headache, chills, muscle aches and exhaustion about five to 21 days after exposure.

Within one to three days, but sometimes longer, after the appearance of fever, the patient develops a rash. The rash may start in the mouth or any part of the body before spreading. Some people may only develop the rash.

The illness typically lasts for two to four weeks. People are considered infectious until all scabs from the rash have fallen off and a fresh layer of skin has formed.

Person-to-person transmission is possible either through skin-to-skin contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores or contaminated items, including bedding or clothing. Infection can also come through exposure to respiratory droplets during prolonged face-to-face contact.

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, or on Twitter @carsongerber1.


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