The Mississippi State Department of Health has now identified six cases of monkeypox across the state.
The monkeypox virus has spread to dozens of countries and infected thousands worldwide since the outbreak began in May. Since Mississippi reported its first case on July 25, the number of nationwide cases has more than doubled. As of Aug. 5, there were 7,510 monkeypox cases in the U.S., according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data.
The monkeypox virus, which is part of the same family of viruses as smallpox, has not caused any deaths but does produce painful symptoms. Nearly all infections outside Africa have occurred among men who have sex with men.
Transmission often occurs through close skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. Airborne transmission also occurs during prolonged close contact with an infected person.
“Regardless of your gender, regardless of your sexual orientation, anybody can get monkeypox,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said.
Mississippi’s initial allotment of the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine included enough doses to inoculate 300 people. Due to the limited supply, the vaccine is only available to direct contacts of infected people. Byers said that the department is looking at making vaccines available to people who have had multiple sexual partners.
However, health department officials are unsure how many more doses the state will receive through the rest of 2022.
“We have so few doses right now that it’s very hard for us to expand our vaccination efforts beyond trying to make sure that we vaccinate those known contacts,” Byers said.
The Biden administration declared the monkeypox outbreak a national health emergency on Aug. 4. In addition to increasing public awareness of the virus, the declaration frees up federal funding for the further creation and vetting of medical treatments.
The World Health Organization declared monkeypox a global public health emergency on July 23, the first time it has taken this step since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020. monkeypox, COVID-19 and polio are the only diseases that have this designation.
Symptoms of monkeypox can include: fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. Infected persons often experience a rash that looks like pimples or blisters that appear on many parts of the body. The illness typically lasts for two to four weeks.