CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) – 19 News learned Sunday that the Lake County General Health District reported two cases of monkeypox.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are now more than 7,500 confirmed cases of monkeypox across the country and 45 cases in Ohio.
Dr Amy Edwards, an infectious disease specialist at University Hospitals, said the virus was spreading faster than expected.
“I think most of us in healthcare are a bit surprised that the epidemic has grown so much,” Dr Edwards explained. “We would have expected that, given that we have treatments and a vaccine, I think most of us expected it to be under control by now. I’m a little worried that this outbreak has gotten bigger than I expected. »
Dr Edwards said the good news is that the virus is less contagious than COVID, but anyone in close contact with others is at risk.
This includes hugs, kisses, or even just holding or shaking hands.
“If you touch the skin, especially on or near an infected person, that’s what we’re talking about,” Edwards said. “Those fluid filled bumps on your skin the virus just comes out of that and so when you hug someone when you touch their arm when you shake their hand if they happen to have pustules on their hands , any type of close contact will pass if the person is infected or symptomatic.
The Cleveland Public Health Department said there are at least 11 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the city, and Lorain County health officials announced one confirmed case Friday.
Dr. Edwards said they are already seeing cases being treated at UH.
“What we are learning is that some people may have very minor symptoms and very minor rashes, so they might just have a few smallpox, the fluid-filled bumps on their skin. I think people expected it to be obvious, you’d be covered in a bunch of chickenpox like chickenpox, and it turns out for some people that’s not the case,” Edwards said. .
Although the virus can be spread through sexual contact, Dr Edwards said it is not an STD.
The virus has spread rapidly within the LGBT community, Dr Edwards said, which is precisely where the outbreak is currently concentrated.
“There’s nothing about being gay or anything that fundamentally puts you at increased risk, but because so many LGBTQ people have it and they tend to hang around, it stays in this population,” Dr Edwards said.
This is the biggest outbreak of monkeypox ever documented, so Dr Edwards said while it was concerning, it was no time to panic.
The number one symptom of monkeypox is a rash that eventually develops into fluid-filled bumps under the skin.
They are usually skin-colored, but they can also be red and are usually painful.
If you have any of these symptoms, Dr. Edwards urges you to stay home and away from others until the rash is completely gone.
“We are now learning recently that you can have very mild symptoms and still spread the virus. It was something we weren’t really aware of, because again, it wasn’t a virus that we had a lot of information about. It turns out that in men who have sex with men, it can only be one or two smallpox, like just around the rectum or even inside, so the person who is affected may not even be aware of it,” said Dr Edwards.
As with most viruses, the majority of the population will recover on their own, but health officials are working to make more vaccines available to the public.
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