South Florida monkeypox cases continue to climb, residents urged to get vaccinated

Blood Sample for Monkeypox Test – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by Arif biswas

Monkeypox continues to spread across the nation and South Florida at rapid speed.

“I’m trying to get an early step on this,” said Adam Northrop, who received the first part of his two-dose Monkeypox vaccine Monday. “I’m hoping it doesn’t become a big thing, but, if it does, I’m prepared.”

Monkeypox comes from the same virus family as smallpox, so the vaccines used to protect against the disease are ones that have already existed: Jynneos and ACAM2000. Jynneos is currently in high demand because health experts believe it has fewer side effects for those suffering from certain health conditions.

In usual cases, the virus starts with flu-like symptoms and then a rash on the body, face, genitals, or mouth that resembles blisters or pimples.

“It is very itchy what I understand from the patients. Some patients have pain,” said Dr. Paula Eckardt. She is the Chief of Infectious Disease at Memorial Regional Healthcare.  

Since the outbreak began in early May, she has seen 16 suspected Monkeypox patients, with seven of them confirmed. 

“Someone with monkeypox should be isolated from the general public until all of the lesions have healed,” she explained. She said the virus can take anywhere between two and four weeks to recover.

The disease is typically spread through skin-to-skin contact, contact with bedding or clothing used by someone who is infected with Monkeypox, or prolonged face-to-face contact.

“In this particular outbreak, the men who engage in intercourse with men population has been greatly affected,” Dr. Eckardt said. “But it doesn’t only affect that population. It can affect anybody.”

There are 180 cases in Florida and a total of 1,972 in the United States according to the CDC.

To put that number into perspective, the last major Monkeypox outbreak in the U.S. was back in 2003. At that time, a total of 47 cases were reported.

Locally, the Florida Department of Health reports 147 total cases in South Florida. Broken up, this consists of 102 in Broward, 42 in Miami-Dade, and 3 in Monroe County.

Since the virus is not airborne, former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said on CBS Face the Nation that people are not facing the same situation they were at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“This isn’t going to explode like COVID,” he said. “This is a slower moving virus, which is why we could have gotten a hold of it if we had been more aggressive up front.”

Those interested can get a free monkeypox vaccine at the Pride Center this week from Tuesday, July 19 to Friday, July 22, between 12:00 and 8:00 p.m. Saturday appointments are available from 12:30-4:30 p.m.

The Florida Department of Health Offices in Miami-Dade and Broward County and the Richardson House in Wilton Manors are also offering vaccinations. All must schedule an appointment ahead of time.

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