- Monkeypox has flu-like symptoms plus painful rashes in the genital areas.
- The county health department is providing vaccinations at no charge.
The first case of monkeypox has been confirmed in Cumberland County, the Cumberland County Health Department announced Monday.
The person who tested positive is isolating at home, county Health Director Jennifer Green said during a news conference on Monday afternoon. The department has identified people who have been in close contact with that patient and is contacting them, she said.
Citing patient privacy, Green would not say how many people were in close contact with the patient.
This infection was discovered because the patient sought testing at the county Health Department last week, Green said. It takes several days to process a monkeypox test and the results came back on Monday, she said.
Citing patient privacy, Green would not say where or how the patient is believed to have gotten infected.
Patients with monkeypox are to remain isolated so long as they have rashes and pimples that are not healed or have been covered with a scab. “Once … it heals over or scabs, then they are no longer infectious and we will release them from isolation,” Green said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, monkeypox is in the same family of viruses that cause smallpox but has milder symptoms.
The CDC says most people with monkeypox get flu-like symptoms and they get a rash that may look like pimples or blisters. The rash can be painful or itchy.
The rash can be on or near the genitals and anus, the CDC says, but also can be on the hands, feet, chest, face or mouth.
“The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing,” the CDC says.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reports that the monkeypox virus can be person-to-person through infected body fluids and items that have been in contact with the infected virus fluids.
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There are 60 confirmed cases of the virus in North Carolina and 5,189 cases in the US as of Monday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Cumberland County Department of Public Health continues to work with federal, state and other local partners to investigate and monitor the current national outbreak and its impacts locally,” a news release from the Health Department says.
How to get vaccinated in Cumberland County
The Health Department is scheduling monkeypox vaccination appointments. The vaccine helps prevent monkeypox illness and its symptoms.
The vaccinations are free. Call 910-433-3600 to request a vaccination appointment. As of Monday evening, Green said, people can typically get the vaccination the same day they call and she believes the department has enough to meet the demand among those eligible to receive it.
Residents may also call 910-433-3600 to request an appointment for testing.
Due to limited supply, the vaccines are being given only to people deemed eligible because they are at the highest risk, Green said. Specifically:
- Anyone who has been in close physical contact in the last 14 days with someone diagnosed with monkeypox.
- Anyone who knows their sexual partner was diagnosed with monkeypox.
- Men who have sex with men, or transgender individuals, and who in the past 90 days have:
- Had multiple or anonymous sex partners.
- Or who have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection.
- Or who or received medication to prevent an HIV infection.
So far mostly in gay men, but anyone can catch it
Although the disease has largely in the United States been reported among sexually active gay men, “anybody can get monkeypox,” Green said. Outbreaks that start in one population group can move to other groups, she said.
“So we want everyone in the community to be aware of what monkeypox is, what the signs and symptoms are.”
Green said monkeypox spreads via close contact between individuals.
This would be several hours of face-to-face contact, she said.
“Or it could be contact that happened through physical contact that’s intimate, such as kissing, sex or cuddling,” Green said. “It can also be transmitted skin-to-skin or through indirect objects like bedsheets.” The contact has to be prolonged, she said.
Residents with unexplained rash, sores or other symptoms should keep the rash covered and avoid sex or being intimate with anyone until you have been evaluated by a medical provider.
Senior North Carolina reporter Paul Woolverton can be reached at 910-261-4710 and firstname.lastname@example.org.