4 monkeypox cases confirmed in SWGA

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Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 6:01 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - There are four confirmed cases of monkeypox across 14 counties in Southwest Georgia as of Monday, according to the Southwest Health District.

Southwest Health District Director Dr. Charles Ruis said this virus is different from COVID-19 when it comes to what doctors know about it.

Ruis said the good thing about monkeypox is it’s nothing new, adding they’ve known about it for some time now, and they have a vaccine available here.

“The problem is it’s in short supply at this time,” said Ruis.

Only a few people are eligible to get the vaccine.

Dr. Charles Ruis is the director of the Southwest Health District.
Dr. Charles Ruis is the director of the Southwest Health District. (WALB)

Ruis said it’s mainly for those who have had skin-to-skin contact with someone who has monkeypox. Unlike COVID-19, the virus does not transfer through coughing or sneezing. Symptoms develop 7-10 days after contact.

“Symptoms similar to the onset of the flu,” said Ruis.

Those are chills, body aches, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion and a rash.

What first looks like chicken pox turns into scabs, 5-10 millimeters in size, and it’s touching those lesions or it is fluid that spread the virus.

“Oftentimes, a scab will develop lesions. The lesions will leak and that would cause the disease to spread,” said Ruis.

For pregnant women, there are concerns too.

“It can transfer through pregnancy through the placenta to the fetus. Not sure yet if it can be transferred through breast milk,” said Ruis.

The incubation period is 4-14 days, but it takes 3-4 weeks for the lesions to completely heal.

“When the scabs are all gone, fresh skin covering then you’re considered no longer contagious, but this can easily take four weeks beginning to end,” said Ruis.

For caretakers, Ruis recommends wearing PPE. For others, COVID-19 precautions apply here too — masking up, distancing and washing your hands often.

He said research shows those who had smallpox or got the smallpox vaccine may have some immunity.

If you think you are eligible for the vaccine or would like to check your eligibility, call the health department at (229) 352-4275.

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