Shelby County Health Department confirms first Monkeypox case
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Shelby County Health Department (SCHD) confirmed the first reported monkeypox case on Monday.
Monkeypox may be rare, but it’s contagious — and commercial testing is being ramped up.
A leading infectious disease expert said he’s not panicking, and neither should you.
Shelby County Health Department Director Dr. Michelle Taylor spoke about the county’s first case.
“A resident of Shelby County who recently traveled outside Shelby County,” she said, “is one of a total of 15 cases reported in Tennessee right now.”
Symptoms of Monkeypox include fever, fatigue, headache and muscle aches followed by a rash that turns into blisters or fluid-filled pustules on the face and body, including the genitals.
”If you have a rash,” said Dr. Taylor, “and you do not know where it came from, you definitely need to stop, call your provider and get tested.”
The Mississippi State Department of Health also confirmed the state’s first case of Monkeybox on Monday.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers’ warning:
“While anyone can get Monkeypox, many of the cases identified in the outbreak in the U.S. and globally have been among men who have sex with men.”
The Mid-South cases come 48 hours after the World Health Organization declared the disease a global public health emergency on Saturday.
”The outbreak has continued to grow,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “And there are now more than 16,000 reported cases in 75 countries and territories and five deaths.”
“People can die from this, but thankfully, it’s very rare,” infectious disease expert Dr. Steve Threlkeld said. “It’s something under 1 percent, and it’s the extreme of age or immunosuppression; again, the populations that do worse with all viral infections like we’ve seen with COVID.”
Health experts said Monkeypox can spread through direct contact with the rash or body fluids and through respiratory secretions during prolonged contact, including kissing and sex. You can also contract the disease by touching items like clothing or bed sheets that have been touched by the infectious rash or fluids from the sores.
Those who catch Monkeypox should isolate for up to a month, until the sores have healed and new skin covers them.
”We really want to be watchful right now,” said Threlkeld, “but I think there’s no reason to panic. This is not going to be a disease that kills a million people in the United States like COVID.”
A vaccine to treat Monkeypox is available; it’s the same one used to treat smallpox.
The Shelby County Health Department said the vaccine is not available to the general public yet.
The Mississippi State Health Department said it has limited doses of the vaccine right now to treat those exposed to the disease.
For more information about monkeypox, visit the following online resources:
- Tennessee Department of Health Monkeypox Page
- CDC Monkeypox Page
- CDC Guidance for Health Care Professionals
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