The Mississippi State Department of Health today confirmed the state’s first case of monkeypox following a global viral outbreak that began in May. The United States has so far reported 2,891 cases with no deaths.
On Saturday July 23, the World Health Organization has declared monkeypox a “public health emergency of international concern”— its highest level of alert. The WHO has reported more than 16,000 cases of monkeypox in 75 countries and five deaths worldwide.
Health officials said in a statement this afternoon that a sample from a Mississippi resident was tested at the state lab and that “an investigation to identify people who may have encountered the patient while ‘he was contagious is ongoing’. They did not reveal which part of the state the patient lives in.
“Symptoms may start with fever, swollen lymph nodes, headache and muscle aches, followed by a rash that starts out as flat then turns into pimples, or blisters and ulcers on the face, the body and the private parts (sex organs)”, explains MSDH. “This rash can be itchy and painful. It can be confused with sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis and herpes or with chicken pox.
The MSDH states that monkeypox has an incubation period of one to two weeks after exposure and that the disease “generally lasts two to four weeks”.
“Transmission can occur through close skin-to-skin contact – kissing, cuddling or having sex – with an infected person,” the statement said. “Transmission can also occur by touching the clothing or linens, bedding or towels of an infected person, or by inhaling the respiratory droplets during prolonged closed contact with an infected person.”
MSDH says it “has received limited doses of the vaccine which will be used to treat people identified by MSDH as being at risk of a case of monkeypox”, but they are not currently widely available. The supply of monkeypox vaccine is insufficient throughout the country.
Public health officials are urging healthcare providers to notify MSDH “when evaluating patients with known rash, particularly if there are known risk factors.”
According to the CDC, “Monkeypox virus is in the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox.” scientists first discovered the virus in monkeys in 1958 and identified the first human case in 1970.
“We are in a different place with this emergency”
“While anyone can get monkeypox, many cases identified during the outbreak in the United States and around the world were in men who have sex with men,” the epidemiologist said. State, Dr. Paul Byers.
Dr. Jennifer Bryan, a physician and board member of the Mississippi State Medical Association, spoke to the Mississippi Free Press moments after the state announced the first case of monkeypox.
“We had our first case in Mississippi, and while it’s not a cause for concern — in fact, it was expected — we need to be aware of the things we can do to keep our families safe. .”
Bryan clarified that while the majority of transmission continues to occur among men who have sex with men, monkeypox is not an STD and has multiple possible routes of infection. “The general way of transmission is through close physical contact. Sometimes it’s intimate, and sometimes it’s just direct, extended contact with someone that’s expected, like family contact,” Bryan said.
And as transmission continues, monkeypox will continue to expand far beyond any community. “Over time, it is expected to spread through the general population,” she said.
Bryan is clear that while monkeypox is a threat, it shouldn’t be compared to COVID-19, which was a new disease with unprecedented spread that first arrived without effective tools to combat it.
“The good thing about this situation is that even though it is spreading, we are in a different place with this emergency. Many people were vaccinated against smallpox years ago and these people are believed to benefit from some level of protection Over the decades we have seen that immunity declines, but… some smallpox vaccines are effective against monkeypox Some of our public health experts use them in post-exposure prophylaxis when there is a known contact.
“At present, the current strain of COVID-19 is one of the most infectious agents known to man. This is not the case where we are with monkeypox. It’s a transmissible pathogen, but you need that direct, sustained close contact: intimate or sexual contact,” Bryan explained.
She ended with a warning: oversimplifying the disease is not an effective way to fight it.
“With HIV, we saw a similar kind of stigma in the beginning. Everyone wanted to feel like it couldn’t affect them if they didn’t have a similar identity. But it was only a matter of time before it spread to the general population. So we want to be vigilant and aware, but we cannot completely ignore our own risks,” she concluded.