With new monkeypox cases virologist says people should ‘keep it on their radar’
Jul 12, 2022, 6:32 AM | Updated: Jul 13, 2022, 9:38 am
With monkeypox cases reaching nearly 700 people infected across the U.S., public health officials are taking key steps in educating the public on this new disease.
“We expect this is something that’s starting to circulate in the region,” said Nigel Turner, director of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s communicable disease control division in a press release. “And that’s why we want to make sure people have the information they need to stay safe and healthy and what they can do to protect themselves.”
Early symptoms of the disease include fatigue, fever and headache. Eventually, a rash develops.
According to a news release, a man in his 30s tested positive for Orthopoxvirus on Saturday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are working to confirm whether the man has the monkeypox virus.
Dr. Keith Jerome, the director of the University of Washington virology lab, says that the risks of catching monkey pox are much lower compared to COVID-19 because it spreads through direct contact rather then airborne transmission.
“So monkeypox is typically spent by very close skin to skin contact. So in terms of just being on the bus, there are a lot of people around, and it’s in the air, this is a completely different thing. It really does require direct contact. So if people can avoid that people really shouldn’t be at risk.”
There is also a vaccine already developed for monkeypox, since the disease is so closely related to smallpox which has been eradicated for over 50 years. Unfortunately, Jerome says, no one has been vaccinated against smallpox since 1972 leaving the population still vulnerable.
“Nothing’s going to be able to sneak up on us as easily as it could have five years ago. Because the entire world virologic effort is so attuned now to this risk, and we’ve built up so much capacity that will detect things pretty early, you know, not on the very first infection or the fifth, but there have been a couple 100 cases of this in the US, and everybody knows about it.”