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Monkeypox Information

Update as of September 19, 2022: Find answers to frequently asked questions about monkeypox below. You can also learn more about monkeypox from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/index.html

Please note: The Unified Government Public Health Department currently has a very limited number of monkeypox vaccines available for people who are at high risk of exposure to monkeypox. See the "Who can get a monkeypox vaccine?" section for more information, or click the button below to go to the sign-up form:

Monkeypox Vaccine Sign-Up

Frequently Asked Questions:

Monkeypox information at a glance

  • The current monkeypox outbreak is an evolving situation. Public health agencies continue to monitor monkeypox spread and learn more about the outbreak. The information below could change as we learn new information.
  • As of September 19, 2022, there have been no confirmed cases in Wyandotte County
  • General risk of getting monkeypox in our area remains low right now, but it’s important to stay up-to-date on monkeypox status in our area
  • Monkeypox usually involves a blister-like rash, and may include flu-like symptoms
  • People usually get monkeypox through close personal contact (especially through sexual contact) with a person who has symptoms.  Less commonly, it can spread through prolonged face-to-face contact or contact with contaminated surfaces such as clothing or linens.
  • Monkeypox testing is only available in certain circumstances. At this time you must have symptoms and be examined by a healthcare provider to see if you are eligible for testing.
  • Supplies of monkeypox vaccine remain low. Currently, you cannot get a monkeypox vaccine unless a public health agency or healthcare provider determines that you qualify.
  • If you have symptoms like a new or unexplained rash that you suspect may be monkeypox, contact your healthcare provider. People in Wyandotte County can also call the Unified Government Public Health Department (UGPHD) at 913-573-6716 and leave a message, and UGPHD staff will follow up.

     

 

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus (MPV). MPV is part of the same family of viruses as smallpox, though symptoms are milder than smallpox. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.

Are there any cases of monkeypox in Wyandotte County?

Data available as of September 16, 2022 - There have been no confirmed cases of monkeypox in Wyandotte County. There have been 8 confirmed case in Kansas, and 75 in Missouri. There have been over 23,000 cases in the United States and over 61,000 cases worldwide. You can find the latest state, U.S. and global monkeypox data from the CDC at: https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/response/2022/us-map.html

 

Are people in Wyandotte County at high risk of getting monkeypox?

People in our area are at low risk of getting monkeypox at this time. Local and state public health agencies are monitoring the situation closely and are prepared to respond to any new cases in our area. 

How does monkeypox spread?

Monkeypox can spread in multiple ways. Anyone who is exposed to monkeypox virus (MPV) in the ways listed below could potentially get monkeypox.

Most of the time, monkeypox is spread through contact with monkeypox lesions on someone’s skin or mucous membranes (e.g. the inside of the mouth, nose, anus, and vagina), especially if the uninfected person’s skin is damaged. This type of exposure is more likely to occur through sexual activity than other types of contact.

The vast majority of monkeypox cases in the current outbreak have been linked to sexual activity, including oral, anal, and vaginal sex. However, monkeypox is not strictly a sexually transmitted infection (STI), as it can sometimes be spread other ways, including:

  • Non-sexual contact with another person’s skin or mucous membranes. This would likely involve prolonged contact and would be more likely to spread on broken skin. Brief physical contact, such as a handshake, is not likely to spread monkeypox.
  • Prolonged face-to-face contact where you are breathing in large respiratory particles can spread monkeypox. This type of transmission is uncommon, as it takes a long time of exposure very close to another person. This differs from something like COVID-19, which spreads through smaller respiratory droplets that can infect others more easily and quickly and can spread farther through the air (e.g. several feet away rather than face-to-face).
  • Touching a contaminated surface, like such as clothing or linens that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids. Only a small portion people in the current outbreak have gotten monkeypox by touching a contaminated surface. This type of transmission would likely involve repeated or prolonged contact with contaminated surfaces. Brief contact with a contaminated surface is not likely to spread monkeypox (examples: toilet seats, chairs, tables). 

 

If someone doesn’t have a visible rash, is it safe to have sex with them or other close skin-to-skin contact with them?

Monkeypox skin lesions are not always immediately obvious when looking at someone. Lesions from a monkeypox rash can resemble things like blisters, large pimples, or other skin conditions. Sometimes people have only a few lesions or even just one lesion. Also, sometimes lesions occur inside the body where they aren’t easily visible, such as in the mouth, vagina, or rectum.

If someone has flu-like symptoms, it is possible these could be initial monkeypox symptoms before lesions have appeared. It also could be many other contagious respiratory conditions (cold, flu, COVID, etc.).

Learn more about safer sex and monkeypox: https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/sexualhealth/index.html   

Additionally, if you are planning to have sexual contact with someone, it is important to remember that some STIs do not have visible symptoms. Learn more about safer sex and preventing STIs here: https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/stds-hiv-safer-sex/safer-sex  

 

Who can get monkeypox?

Anyone in close contact with a person with monkeypox can get it and should take steps to protect themselves. Monkeypox can affect people of any age, gender, sexual orientation, or race.

What are the symptoms?

Most people who get monkeypox have a rash:

  • May look like blisters or pimples, and it will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing.
  • May be on the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus (butthole), but can also be on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth.
  • May be painful or itchy.

Some people will also have flu-like symptoms, which can start before or after the rash appears. These symptoms can include headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, fever, chills, exhaustion, or respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough).

 

What should I do if I have symptoms?

If you have a new or unexplained rash, or other monkeypox symptoms, avoid contact with others and contact a healthcare providers. See more details below on what to do:

  • Contact your healthcare provider or local health department*. Please call ahead and tell them about your symptoms before coming in. They may advise you on precautions to take when you come in.
  • Stay home and avoid close contact with other people while you have symptoms. If a healthcare provider determines that you need to be tested for monkeypox, please continue to stay home and avoid contact with others while waiting for your results.
  • Wear a mask if you have to be around others, like when you see a healthcare provider.
  • Cover any blisters or skin lesions (may be covered with clothing when possible).

*If you live in Wyandotte County, you can call the Unified Government Public Health Department (UGPHD) at 913-573-6716. Please leave a message and UGPHD staff will follow up. UGPHD staff can determine if you need to be examined for possible monkeypox. Exams available by appointment only (no walk-ins).

 

 

How dangerous is monkeypox? Is it deadly?

Monkeypox can be fatal, but the vast majority of people who get monkeypox will survive. So far in the current outbreak, the death rate has been less than 1%. As of September 16, 2022, there have been 20 monkeypox deaths globally in the current outbreak, out of over 61,000 people who have gotten monkeypox.

While most people who get monkeypox will not die from it, symptoms can be very painful, and the rash can cause scarring.

 

Who is at highest risk of serious illness from monkeypox?

People with weakened immune systems, children under 8 years of age, people with a history of eczema, and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding may be more likely to get seriously ill or die from monkeypox.

Who can get tested for monkeypox?

Monkeypox testing is only done in certain circumstances when someone has symptoms of monkeypox, including skin symptoms that resemble monkeypox. A healthcare provider must examine a patient to determine if monkeypox is possible and get guidance from KDHE on testing. The type of testing currently available involves swabbing skin lesions.

Who can get a monkeypox vaccine?

There is a limited supply of monkeypox vaccine nationally. At this time in our area, you can only get a monkeypox vaccine if a public health agency or healthcare provider determine that you qualify. You may be eligible for a vaccine if you have been exposed to monkeypox or if you are at high risk. Note: If you have been exposed to a confirmed case of Monkeypox, you will be contacted by your state health department and given special instructions on where and how you can receive the vaccine. 

Vaccines through the UG Public Health Department

The Unified Government Public Health Department (UGPHD) currently has a very limited supply of monkeypox vaccines. These vaccines are available for people who are at high risk of being exposed to monkeypox. Click the button below to fill out a form to see if you are eligible to receive a monkeypox vaccination:

Monkeypox Vaccine Sign-Up

More information on vaccine eligibility as of September 19, 2022:  Eligibility is based on criteria for monkeypox risk outlined by the CDC and the Kansas Department of Heatlh and Environment. The eligibility is limited based on the current low vaccine supply. As more vaccine supply becomes available, the eligibility will be adjusted to include more people.

Individuals who are currently eligible for the monkeypox vaccine include men who have sex with men, or transgender, gender non-conforming, or gender non-binary individuals, or men or women who engage in commercial sex work, who, in the next 6 months: 

  • May have multiple or anonymous sex partners, or 
  • May meet sex partners through online applications or social media platforms (e.g., Grindr, Tinder, Scruff) or at clubs, raves, sex parties, saunas, or other large gatherings, or 
  • May be diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection. 

The majority of cases in the current monkeypox outbreak have been linked to sexual activity and have occurred in men who have sex with men, and people in their sexual networks. However, anyone in close contact with a person with monkeypox can get monkeypox, regardless of sexual orientation, gender, age, race, or other attributes.  

Monkeypox can spread in multiple ways. Most of the time, monkeypox is spread through contact with monkeypox lesions on someone’s skin or mucous membranes. This type of exposure is more likely to occur through sexual activity than other types of contact. Less commonly, monkeypox can spread through prolonged non-sexual physical contact, face-to-face contact, or contact with a contaminated surface such as clothing or linens that touched the infectious rash or bodily fluids. 

 

Are there treatments available for monkeypox?

There is no treatment specifically used for monkeypox. However, since monkeypox and smallpox are closely related, antiviral medications meant to treat smallpox may be used for monkeypox in some circumstances. KDHE and CDC would determine if a patient were eligible for antiviral treatment.

Additionally, your healthcare provider may recommend other prescription or over-the-counter options to manage symptoms like pain or itching.

What can I do to protect myself from monkeypox?

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have monkeypox symptoms:
    • Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.
    • Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
    • Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox.
  • Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
  • Practice standard hand hygiene: Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • A monkeypox vaccine provides protection, but right now the vaccine supply is limited. At this time, you can only get a monkeypox vaccine if a healthcare provider or public health agency determines that you are eligible. You may be eligible for a vaccine if you have been exposed to monkeypox or if you are at high risk. See the "Who Can Get a Monkeypox Vaccine" section for more information.