Springfield-Greene County Health Department officials are tracking possible monkeypox cases

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – Currently there are 8,934 monkeypox cases in the U.S.

There are 15 Missouri and 9 in Arkansas according to data collected by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Greene County one case has been confirmed. Officials at the Springfield-Greene County Health Department tell us they’re investigating more potential cases.

“Nobody wants to be ill. If you ask me, could you survive it, sure,” said Jason Norman-Hodges.

He says he was exposed to the virus while he was in Kansas City. Norman-Hodges says he immediately contacted the health department and was one of the first in this area to get vaccinated.

“I know that it’s something that locally that has not been needed until now,” he said.

Only five monkeypox vaccines have been administered in Greene County.

Chief medical officer for the health department Nancy Yoon said, “For now the people who can get the vaccine are people who have had close contact to a confirmed lab case of monkeypox.”

“This is not a new disease. It’s been predominantly seen in Africa,” said Dr. Will Sistrunk, infectious disease doctor at Mercy.

He says this disease is not sexually transmitted or limited to spread within a specific group of people.

“No matter what demographic you’re in you can spread it to somebody else. We’re all at risk,” explained Dr. Sistrunk.

The rash makes the illness highly contagious. However, Dr. Sistrunk says there are other symptoms that develop before it forms.

“You can get fever and fatigue, muscle aches, like other viral infections. But one that’s a little different than some of the other viral infections is that you generally get swollen lymph nodes,” he explained.

The health department is using the same tactics to track the spread of monkeypox as was used with COVID-19 virus.

“We continue to use the same measures of case investigation and isolation. Really just providing education to the public along with vaccination. Using all of these tools, those are the strategies we have to limit the number of cases as much as we can,” said Yoon.

Hospitals are also putting plans in place to limit the spread of the monkeypox.

“We have a plan now in place for personal protection equipment for our co-workers to use if they were to think that a patient may have monkeypox to try to avoid the spread of that from person-to-person within the healthcare setting. Those are being put in place across the nation,” said Dr. Sistrunk.

Local health officials are urging the community to get educated about this disease to prevent the spread.

Yoon said, “It’s important for people to just get informed and not have fear about this situation. but to just really education themselves as much as possible so that they can protect their health and the health of those closest to them.”

Norman-Hodges says getting the monkeypox vaccine gave him peace of mind.

“Post COVID, if that’s where we are, it’s especially important right now. We all lived through already a major, major pandemic, the largest of any of our lives. I am not ready to go through another one.”

Click here to access the Springfield-Greene County Health Department’s page with resources and information about monkeypox.

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