Duke Health experts say NC monkey pox cases will continue to rise :: WRAL.com

North Carolina added nine new cases of monkey pox on Friday, bringing it closer to 100 since the outbreak began.

Duke Health experts say they expect the number to grow.

Almost all cases involve men who have sex with other men – but doctors believe it is only a matter of time before more women and children become infected. Monkey pox is spread through close, often intimate, skin contact.

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“If we compare this to COVID, which was an overwhelmingly respiratory infection, it’s an order of magnitude less contagious,” said Dr. Cameron Wolfe, infectious disease specialist at Duke Health.

Even though it’s mostly spreading among gays and bisexuals, Wolfe says monkey pox should be on everyone’s radar.

“There is nothing in the way the virus travels to care about your gender, who you love or who you spend time with,” he said. “There is no reason it has to stay in these populations.”

Transmission of monkey pox in households and schools

Pediatrician Dr. Ibukun Kalu expects infection at home but not in kindergartens and schools.

“Children with a history of dermatitis, particularly dermatitis or eczema, may be more likely to have a moderate to severe presentation,” he said.

Vaccinations available in North Carolina

The virus begins with a fever followed by rashes and painful blisters that take 2 to 3 weeks to heal.

To help fight the epidemic, the state receives thousands of additional doses of the monkey pox vaccine. However, the indicators show that less than a quarter of the shots hit the hands.

Doctors say vaccines can prevent infection. Currently, North Carolina has received over 10,000 doses. However, only around 2,200, or 22%, were reported.

Wake County has 550 doses available and currently they are only intended for those at high risk – a group that includes gays and bisexuals who have had multiple or anonymous sexual partners in the past 3 months.

“I think we need to think of things from an equality in health perspective and make sure we reach the right people, that we are moving at the pace we need to move,” said Dr. Vincent Guilamo-Ramos, dean of Duke University School of Nursing.

Wake County will be hosting a monkey pox vaccination event

Doctors say people already vaccinated against smallpox likely have some protection against monkey pox – but it’s not clear to what extent and those at risk are encouraged to adopt the newer vaccine.

On Saturday, Wake County is hosting a 10 to 3 free unattended vaccination clinic at the Health Center on Sunnybrook Road.

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