By Carol Vaughn —
The Eastern Shore Health District has stocked a limited amount of vaccine doses in preparation for potential cases of monkeypox.
No monkeypox cases have been reported on the Eastern Shore, but Virginia as of Aug. 8 has had 145 cases, of which 105 were in Northern Virginia.
Nineteen cases have been reported in Virginia’s eastern region.
All but one case were in males. People between age 20 and 49 accounted for 93% of the cases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking an outbreak of the disease that has spread across countries that don’t typically have it, including the United States.
The United States as of Aug. 5 had 7,510 confirmed moneypox cases, including in all states except Wyoming and Montana.
Globally, more thaln 28,000 cases have been reported in 88 countries, including 81 countries that historically have not reported the disease.
“We would recommend anyone feeling they have been exposed or are at increased potential of being exposed either reach out to their primary care provider or contact us directly at either health department,” said Jon Richardson, Eastern Shore Health District chief operation officer, in an email.
“The risk to the general public is considered low at this time. People with monkeypox in the current outbreak generally report having close, sustained physical contact, including sexual contact, with other people who have monkeypox. Household contacts may also be at increased risk of monkeypox infection,” Richardson said.
Monkeypox is a rare contagious rash illness caused by a virus.
The virus is in the same family as the virus that causes smallpox, but causes milder illness. Still, some symptoms can be severe.
The virus can spread from animals to people and from person to person.
According to the Virginia Department of Health, the highest risk activity is sex with multiple or anonymous partners.
Symptoms typically start six to 13 days after exposure. For many people, the illness starts with flu-like symptoms that begin a few days before the rash appears.
People who have no symptoms should talk to their healthcare provider, even if they don’t think they have had contact with someone with monkeypox.
People with symptoms should separate themselves from other people and pets, cover lesions, and contact their doctor.
Antiviral medication may be recommended for people more likely to get severely ill, like patients with weakened immune systems.
The VDH has ordered “a small supply” of tecovirimat, an antiviral drug, and is working with doctors who request the medication for their patients.
Two vaccines, JYNNEOS and ACAM2000, are available in the United States to prevent monkeypox.
The VDH currently is using JYNNEOS.
Vaccination is recommended only for people at high risk of exposure, according to the VDH.