MSDH provides update on Monkeypox case

Published 11:03 am Friday, July 29, 2022

The Mississippi State Department of Health updated the press briefing regarding Mississippi’s first Monkeypox case on Wednesday.

MSDH reported the state’s first monekeypox case on Monday, July 25. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the case count has reacted 3,591 nationwide. As of Wednesday, there only been one confirmed case in Mississippi. MSDH Epidemiologist Paul Byers led the briefing by explaining what Monkeypox is and how it spreads.

“Monkeypox is a public health concern that we all need to be aware of,” said Byers.

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Monkeypox is a viral infection that is transmitted through direct person-to-person contact. According to the CDC, the virus can spread from person-to-person through direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or bodily fluids. It also can be spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged face-to-face contact or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex. It can also be transmitted through items like towels and utensils. Regardless of age, gender or sexual orientation, anyone who is exposed can get monkeypox.

“There are multiple ways to get Monkeypox,” said Byers. “It is likely that we will see additional cases of monkeypox identified in the state.”

To the MSDH’s knowledge the first case of monkeypox in Mississippi was acquired while the person was outside of the state.

The incubation period is thought to be between one to two weeks. Symptoms can start as a fever, and include flu like symptoms, muscles aches that typically progress to a rash that can look like several different ailments.

“They could start out flat but could also blister, it could look like pimples and typically it would be on several parts of the body like the face but could also be on the hands and/or on the genitals. For some folks it could be a very painful rash,” said Byers.

In that state of the illness, individual are very infectious to others. Symptoms usually last 2-4 weeks and that a person is contagious until the rash completely goes away. Byers said once that rash goes away the individual is no longer considered infectious.

The best way to prevent being infected is to avoid close contact with someone who may have Monkeypox, avoid close contact with the rash,  and don’t share linens or towels, cups or utensils with others. If an individual thinks they have Monkeypox its highly advised they talk to their health care provider.

“It’s important to isolate and stay away from your family or others in the house. Isolate and see your doctor about getting tested,” said Byers

Byers added that the MSDH is working on acquiring a vaccination, and they’ve received “some vaccine” in Mississippi that can be used to help prevent monkeypox for those who have been exposed to it. With such little dosage at the moment MSDH’s priority is to treat those individuals identified as known contacts through MSDH’s public health investigation. They also plan to expand their utilization of the vaccine to individuals who may have come in contact with an infected individual in the last 14 days. Byers said the MSDH is putting forth strong efforts to investigate the Monkeypox case.

When asked about the vaccine supply in the near future, Byers said they will increase it but don’t know how much this state will receive. He also added that the CDC is approaching phase two of supply and vaccine distribution.