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Anyone can get monkeypox, but officials advise gay, bisexual men to be especially cautious

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KSMU Archives
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The Springfield-Greene County Health Department is based in Springfield, Missouri.

Health officials say the majority of cases in the latest monkeypox outbreak have been in gay and bisexual men, and other men who have sex with men.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anyone can get monkeypox—but there’s one population that’s been most impacted so far by the latest monkeypox outbreak: gay and bisexual men.

Kendra Findlay, administrator of Community Health and Epidemiology with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, said that’s the result of the orthopox virus— which causes monkeypox—being introduced into an interconnected social network.

Findlay and CDC officials stress that anyone can get the virus if they’re exposed through prolonged contact with an infected person.

Still, she has advice for anyone in that higher risk group.

“If you are going to any type of networking event, you may want to make sure that whoever you’re meeting up with doesn’t have symptoms,” Findlay said.

In the latest outbreak, the infection appears to spread from person to person through skin-to-skin contact or through exposure to materials that have come into contact with an infectious person.

"So think about clothing, towels or bedding,” said Findlay. "Or contact with an animal or dead animal or international traveling to places where [orthopox] is endemic."

The symptoms of monkeypox

Symptoms of monkeypox in the latest outbreak include a rash with blisters on the face, hands, feet, eyes, mouth and/or genitals; a fever; headache; muscle aches; tiredness; and swollen lymph nodes.

If you have symptoms, contact your healthcare provider or an urgent care before going to the office.

Monkeypox causes blisters to form on various parts of the body. Until those pustules scab over and the scabs fall off, which can take up to four weeks, that person can spread the virus to others.

Monkeypox vaccines in Missouri

This week, the health department reported one probable case of monkeypox in Greene County, and those who may have been exposed to the virus have been contacted, officials say.

Findlay said vaccines are available for those who are considered a high-risk exposure, but they have to be requested through the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services—which requests them through the CDC. That’s the same process for getting antivirals, which Findlay said might reduce the number of days a person is ill.

She said local officials have talked with healthcare providers so they know what to watch for when a patient contacts them with symptoms.

“I feel like we are prepared to identify [it] and make sure that our cases are isolated so it doesn’t spread as readily within our community,” said Findlay.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.