Getting Answers: monkeypox declared public health emergency

Over the weekend, monkeypox was declared a public health emergency.
Published: Jul. 25, 2022 at 2:07 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Over the weekend, monkeypox was declared a public health emergency. As it continues to spread throughout the Bay State and beyond, we’re getting answers on how people can stay safe.

The World Health Organization has now called the monkeypox outbreak “a public health emergency.” With the virus on the rise, Western Mass News is asking the public what they know about it so far.

“I haven’t heard anything which I know isn’t good, but I haven’t heard anything yet,” said Jenna Medina.

“I didn’t really know much about it. It could be serious. It could be something that is just going around, but anything can really happen,” added Liam Cournoier.

Thirty new monkeypox cases have been reported in Massachusetts in the past week, so we’re getting answers from a Baystate doctor to find out more about the virus. Dr. Daniel Skiest from the division of infectious disease at Baystate Health answered some basic questions on the virus, including how monkeypox is transmitted. He told Western Mass News “direct skin to skin contact with an infected person is the most common mode of spread. Also, from touching objects such as towels, sheets that were used by a person with monkey pox and contact with respiratory secretions.”

Skiest said that sign and symptoms of monkeypox can be “fever, headache, muscle aches, sore throat, enlarged lymph nodes, initially, then after about 5 days a rash develops.”

So when should someone get vaccinated for monkeypox? According to Skiest, “known contacts who are identified by public health via case investigation, contact tracing, and risk exposure assessments. Presumed contacts who may meet the following criteria:

  • Know that a sexual partner in the past 14 days was diagnosed with monkeypox
  • Had multiple sexual partners in the past 14 days in a jurisdiction with known monkeypox”

Why isn’t this considered as a sexually transmitted disease? He said “while most cases in the current outbreak have been associated with men having sex with men, the mode of transmission is direct skin to skin contact and it is not a sexually transmitted infection in the traditional sense.”

Skiest also noted that monkeypox is very rarely a deadly disease and there is a test that physicians can get to test from a sample from a patient with a rash.

For those who are looking to get a vaccine, the two locations for vaccine administration in Springfield are at Baystate Health’s Brightwood health center and Tapestry Health.