Monkeypox cases in Ky. remain low, but keep inching up slowly; vaccine is available for those at high risk of getting the disease

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Even as new cases of monkeypox inch up in Kentucky, overall cases remain low. On Sunday, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had confirmed 19,962 cases nationwide, 33 had been confirmed in the state.

That’s two more than had been reported by Thursday, Sept. 1, when the state put out its latest weekly report, showing Kentucky had 31 cases in nine counties. Of those, 18 owere in Jefferson County, three in Fayette, three in Warren, two in Christian, and one each in Barren, Kenton, McCracken, Montgomery and Oldham counties.

The state report also shows 23 of the 31 cases were in people between the ages of 30 and 64. eight were in those aged 18 to 29, and all but one were male.

Men who have sex with men represent most of the cases, according to the CDC, but anyone can contract monkeypox. It is not a sexually transmitted disease. It can be spread through close, personal contact, often skin-to-skin; by touching objects and surfaces that have been used by someone who has the virus; and through contact with respiratory secretions.

The risk of children getting infected with monkeypox is low, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. As of Aug. 21, AAP reports that 17 cases have been reported in U.S. children younger than 15, and 134 cases have been reported in those aged 16 to 20.
Monkeypox is a viral disease that is part of the same family of viruses as smallpox that causes flu-like symptoms and a rash. It is not related to chickenpox.

Symptoms can include chills, fever, body aches, swollen lymph nodes, headache, respiratory symptoms and a rash. The CDC says you may experience all or only a few of these symptoms.

The rash may be located on or near the genitals or anus, and could be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face or mouth. The rash initially looks like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy.

Symptoms usually start within three weeks of exposure to the virus and the illness typically lasts two to four weeks.

Individuals are infectious from the time the symptoms start until the rash has completely healed, meaning that every scab has fallen off and a fresh layer of skin has formed.

If you have symptoms of monkeypox or have had close personal contact with someone who has it, talk to your health-care provider about testing and treatment options.

Currently, only people at highest risk of getting monkeypox can get vaccinated for it. As more doses of the vaccine become available, eligibility criteria may change to allow for more widespread distribution. Click here to see who is eligible to get vaccinated.

The vaccine is given in two doses at least four weeks apart. Vaccine recipients are considered to have best immunity two weeks after the second dose. The vaccine helps prevent getting monkeypox and makes it less severe if you do contract the disease.
To find a location that offers the monkeypox vaccine, go to the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services monkeypox website and find the link to Monkeypox Vaccination Locations.
Monkeypox is rarely fatal.  According to the CDC, “Over 99% of people who get this form of the disease are likely to survive. However, people with weakened immune systems, children under 8 years of age, people with a history of eczema, and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding may be more likely to get seriously ill or die.”
That said, on Aug. 30, state health officials with the Texas Department of State Health Services reported the first death of a person who had been diagnosed with monkeypox. They noted that the  patient, who was not identified, was an adult resident of Harris County (Houston) who was severely immunocompromised. The news release said the case is under investigation to determine what role monkeypox played in the death.
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