Augusta doctor explains the truth about monkeypox

Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 6:26 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Augusta now has two confirmed cases of monkeypox.

Thursday, Piedmont University tells us they are treating one patient.

Augusta University says they are also treating one confirmed patient but believes a second patient may be infected as well.

Many have reached out asking questions about monkeypox, based on things read online.

Let’s start with how quickly it’s spread in Georgia since our first case back on June 10.

A month later we had more than 90 cases and that number went up to more than 200 by the end of last month.

Fast forward to just about a week ago, we had more than 600 cases.

In the last week, we’ve seen an increase of more than 400 cases, putting us at over a thousand total cases.

Thursday, we spoke with local doctors to find out how it’s spreading and to clear up misinformation on what you may have heard about monkeypox.

Monkeypox is the newest sickness impacting people across the globe.

How is it spreading? Is it through casual contact like a high five or handshake?

“Any skin-to-skin contact can transmit the virus, but it would have to be skin contact with an open lesion,” said Chief Medical Officer of AU, Phillip Coule.

You can only get it through coming in contact with an open wound. But what about surfaces?

“Not a common means of transmission but possible. Bedding that potentially has the virus in the skin that has come off does present a little bit of a risk,” he said.

It may not be common to get it from a table or chair, but what about from the air?

“Airborne transmission would be within six feet within a cumulative of three hours before really that type of transmission even becomes something to consider,” said Coule.

What about kids? Can they pick it up from school?

“There is a risk of transmission in skin-to-skin contact or close contact, but we aren’t seeing an outbreak amongst children,” he said.

So, who is most at risk?

“Anyone can get monkeypox and we all need to be aware of it, but primarily right now this is being transmitted in the men who have sex with men group, and safer sex practices and immunizing that group can have a profound impact on the current outbreak,” said Coule.

While cases are climbing and it needs to be taken seriously by everyone, he says it is not as transmissible or deadly as COVID-19.

Coule says the key to stopping this spread is vaccines.

While the names might be similar, he says the chicken pox vaccine will not protect against monkeypox. But the smallpox vaccine could make it less severe.

The Biden Administration says an additional one-point-eight million doses of the monkeypox vaccine will soon be available in the United States.