Local expert shares what you need to know about monkeypox

Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 6:45 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Augusta University Health confirmed our area’s first case of monkeypox Monday.

While health officials say there’s not a local outbreak, the state of Georgia is ranked fifth in the nation for cases.

Experts at the Centers for Disease Control say Georgia has more than 950 cases. South Carolina is ranked 26th with more than 60.

Doctors at Augusta University Health say most confirmed cases will bring flu-like symptoms. That will be fever, headaches, chills, muscle aches and a rash.

They say this isn’t something to be immediately concerned about, but they want everyone to know what to look out for so that doctors can help people who may be infected.

Augusta University’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Phillip Coule, says this disease doesn’t pose an immediate risk for everyone.

“We are seeing cases occur in the Augusta area now,” he said. “It’s important to understand that anyone can get monkeypox, but particularly men having sex with men is a much more at-risk group, particularly for the current outbreak.”

There are things that health professionals say you should do. This disease has unique characteristics.

Coule says people typically have flu-like symptoms and then get a rash. If you get a rash or have flu symptoms, it’s most likely not monkeypox.

“Most people don’t need to worry if they have a bump come up and start questioning is this monkeypox or a pimple,” said Coule.

You do not need to go to the hospital if you have it because most people don’t need treatment. They want you to call your doctor so they can start contact tracing.

If you do have monkeypox, doctors say you should isolate for 14 days or more, and the lesions have to be completely scabbed over to not be infectious.

“Anyone can get monkeypox, and it’s important to not stigmatize this disease as only being in that particular patient population, but for the majority of people it means the risk is lower,” he said.

To get monkeypox, you have to have direct, intense contact with body fluids or skin lesions in most cases. You can get it by breathing if you’re within six feet for more than three hours, but it’s an extremely low risk.

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