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‘We do not have vaccine’: Ark. waiting on word about monkeypox shot following confirmed case

Jonesboro KAIT logo Jonesboro KAIT 7/6/2022 Kelly Roberts
Monkeypox © Provided by Jonesboro KAIT Monkeypox

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (WMC) - The state of Arkansas is waiting to learn how many monkeypox vaccines it will receive. This after the first confirmed case of the virus was confirmed in the Natural State this week.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Arkansas Health officials released no information about the patient in the first monkeypox case in the state. We do not know where the patient lives or how the patient may have caught monkeypox.

It’s the first reported case in the Mid-South since an outbreak started across the country this spring. Now, more than half the states are reporting at least one case.

“If Arkansas follows the patterns of other states we will likely have additional cases,” Arkansas Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Dillha said.

Like a majority of health experts, Arkansas Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Dillaha does not expect the monkeypox virus to reach pandemic levels like COVID-19. There are several reasons for that. First, it’s harder to catch than COVID, it takes very close contact or the exchange of bodily fluid with an infected person.

Plus, there is already a FDA approved vaccine for the virus. But Arkansas currently has none of those shots.

Dr. Dillaha said she expects an allocation soon as they are being allocated to states with confirmed cases.

Dr. Dillaha said monkeypox causes general feelings of illness, like fever, headache, muscle soreness and malaise, which can develop one to two weeks after exposure.

The most identifying symptom is a rash, which Dillaha said, starts out as flat then eventually turns into pustules that will scab over.

“Someone would have to have close contact with someone who has the rash,” Dr. Dillaha said. “It would be skin to skin contact or close contact with the clothing or the sheets something that has touched the rash.”

In fact, a monkeypox test swabs the rash to see if the virus is present. Dillaha says once the rash scabs over it stops becoming contagious.

Contact tracing is done following a confirmed and suspected case of monkeypox, and unlike COVID-19, Dr. Dillaha said the incubation period of the virus can take up to two weeks allowing for effective intervention on potentially exposed people.

Some smallpox vaccines and antivirals have been used to prevent the virus from developing after possible exposure.

The Centers for Disease Control recently announced a nationwide expansion of moneypox testing. For more information about monkeypox in Arkansas click here. You can also visit the CDC’s website.

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