Jul 7, 2022 - News

What to know about monkeypox in Arkansas

Digitally-colorized electron microscopic image depicting a monkeypox virus particle. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Arkansas has its first known case of monkeypox, the Arkansas Department of Health reported.

Details: Jennifer Dillaha, the department's director, said Wednesday during a call with reporters that she couldn't say specifically where in Arkansas the monkeypox case is or give any details about the case.

  • The department will likely follow similar protocols to other disease outbreaks, typically only giving specific case numbers in counties where there are more than five cases.

Context: Monkeypox is a rare disease primarily seen in central and western African countries prior to the global outbreak in 2022. Recently, countries all over the world have reported outbreaks.

  • The first U.S. case reported as part of this outbreak was in May in Massachusetts. The United States now has 604 cases, according to the CDC.

Threat level: None of the U.S. cases have resulted in death, although the death rate in Africa has generally been up to 10%, Dillaha said.

  • Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle pain and a painful rash that occur seven to 14 days after exposure.
  • Monkeypox is spread through direct contact with the rash, scabs or body fluids, respiratory secretions during face-to-face contact like kissing, or touching items such as clothing that previously touched the rash or body fluids, according to the CDC.
  • Pregnant people can spread the virus to a fetus. You can get monkeypox if an infected animal bites or scratches you or you eat meat or use products from an infected animal.

Be smart: Monkeypox is not airborne and is typically only spread by people who have symptoms, meaning you can't get it just by being in the same room as an infected person like you can with COVID-19, Dillaha said.

Yes, but: Hans Henri Kluge, the World Health Organization regional director for Europe, warned that the outbreak poses a real risk and society needs to act with urgency to control it, Axios' Herb Scribner writes.

If you've been exposed: Contact your doctor and get tested. Antivirals can help treat monkeypox. A national stockpile of JYNNEOS vaccines is being made available to people who have been exposed to monkeypox.

  • Getting the vaccine within four days of exposure can prevent getting monkeypox altogether, unlike viruses such as COVID-19 in which the incubation period is shorter and the vaccine has to be taken before exposure to help, Dillaha explained.

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