North Carolina health department responds to rising monkeypox cases and widening disparities

North Carolina has more than 200 cases of monkeypox virus, with at least one case reported in 34 counties, according to August 18 data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

This includes Orange County, which had its first confirmed case of monkeypox on August 17. The first confirmed case in North Carolina he was confirmed on June 23.

The United States has more than 14,000 confirmed monkeypox cases nationwide. North Carolina ranks 15th for monkeypox infections, compared to other states, according to August 18 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

North Carolina reaction

According to their website, NCDHHS is working with local health departments and community partners to identify, track and respond to cases in the state.

We initiated our planned response when the first cases emerged in the UK and have worked to distribute guidance to health care providers and information to the public.

“If a case is reported through the local health department, they should report it to us so we can work with them to follow up. Treatment and materials and contact tracing,” said Dr. Susan Kansagra, NCDHHS Assistant Secretary of Public Health.

The Department of Health also provides the JYNNEOS vaccine to people exposed to monkeypox and provides a list of vaccine locations on its website.

JYNNEOS is a monkeypox vaccine and the CDC’s preferred defense against rare diseases. The vaccine requires her two doses and it takes him 14 days from his second dose of JYNNEOS to reach maximal immune protection.

Vaccine supplies are limited, according to NCDHHS. Therefore, the department is prioritizing those who have been exposed to monkeypox or who are at high risk of exposure. Cansagra said it stocks more than 10,000 doses of vaccines for those most likely to be affected in North Carolina.

In North Carolina, vaccine eligibility criteria include: Anyone who has been in close contact with a person diagnosed with monkeypox within the past two weeks, and any transgender person who is gay or bisexual, or who has had multiple sex with her partner or has anonymous sex, will have monkeypox. was diagnosed. Received medication to prevent sexually transmitted infections or HIV infection.

Orange County response

The Orange County Department of Health is in direct contact with the first infected individual in the county, according to an Aug. 17 press release.

“We’ve been prepared for monkeypox cases, but now that we’re here, people at risk can seek medical care and get tested quickly if they have symptoms. We want our community to be aware of this disease,” Orange County Health Commissioner Quintana Stewart said in a release.

The vaccine location at 414 E. Main St. in Durham serves as a monkeypox vaccine hub for Orange County, but the county has had several pop-up clinics, said Carborough Mayor Damon Seils. Stated.

“We hope to work with our community health colleagues at the Department of Health to host several community events in the not too distant future,” said Margaret Campbell, a family nurse with the Orange County Health Department.

Sayles, who received the vaccine at the Durham County Public Health Department, recommends that people in high-risk populations get the monkeypox vaccine.

Vaccine gap

Anyone can get monkeypox, but according to NCDHHS, most monkeypox cases in North Carolina are now men who have sex with men.

Most monkeypox cases in the state are black men.

NCDHHS reported on August 10 that “although 70% of cases are in black men, less than a quarter of black people in North Carolina receive the vaccine.”

In contrast, white men account for only 19% of cases, while whites in North Carolina receive 67% of vaccinations.

“What we really want to do is make sure we provide clear and unbiased information,” said Cansagra. “We know there is already a lot of stigma in the community, and we really hope that what we do doesn’t create any more stigma.”

As a gay man, Seils is concerned that stigma and misinformation may increase as monkeypox cases rise. He said people need to be aware that anyone can get monkeypox and that it is not a sexually transmitted disease.

Sails added he was also concerned about the vaccine disparity affecting black men. Those most at risk often have less access to the resources they need, he said. .

“Different populations of people, especially when it comes to race and ethnicity, have different access when it comes to health care,” Seils said.

general information

Early symptoms of monkeypox include fever, fatigue, headache, and rarely sore throat and cough, according to NCDHHS and CDC. A rash like pimples or blisters appears immediately.

Symptoms usually begin within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus and usually last 2-4 weeks. Monkeypox can spread from the time symptoms begin until the rash clears.

The CDC said monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, personal, and skin-to-skin contact.

This includes direct contact with rashes, scabs, or bodily fluids of an infected person, contact with objects, fabrics, and surfaces used by a monkeypox patient, or contact with respiratory secretions from an infected person. .

Direct contact can occur in intimate relationships, including: oral, anal or vaginal sex, touching the genital area of ​​monkeypox patients, hugging, massaging or kissing, prolonged face-to-face contact. .

Cansagra said North Carolinians should contact their doctors if they are concerned about possible infection.

“All health care providers can do it. They can swab it and send it to the lab,” she said. I highly recommend taking it.”


@DTHC City State | | [email protected]

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