Augusta sees second, possibly third cases of monkeypox

Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 10:03 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Augusta now has at least cases of monkeypox and possibly a third as the virus continues to spread in Georgia.

Augusta University Health confirmed our area’s first case of monkeypox Monday in an inpatient, then the Piedmont Augusta hospital told News 12 on Thursday that it had a confirmed case. In addition, AU Health says it has a highly suspected case who’s an inpatient.

The Augusta cases didn’t show up until after Atlanta had reported hundreds of infections.

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Experts at the Centers for Disease Control are reporting that Georgia has 1,033 reported cases of monkeypox, which is the fifth highest total in the nation.

The other top states are New York with 2,620 cases, California with 1,945 cases, Florida with 1,268 cases and Texas with 1,048 cases.

South Carolina has 73 cases.

Monkeypox is generally spread through close contact or intimate contact. This means direct contact with a rash, scabs or body fluids. It can also be contracted by touching items or objects belonging to a person with monkeypox such as clothing, bedding and towels, etc. It also can be spread through contact with respiratory droplets but it is unknown how often that happens.

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.

AU Health 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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