Lexington health dept.: third monkeypox case 'not a reason for a panic'

Monkeypox Africa
Posted at 5:00 PM, Aug 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-25 19:20:26-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Fayette County isn’t nearing panic mode as it's related to the spread of monkeypox, but the health department did record two more confirmed cases since last week, bringing the total number to three.

“This is not a reason for a panic, but it is a reason for concern,” said Kevin Hall, the communications chief for the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department.

As is usually the case, Hall and his colleagues inside the department are most concerned about people taking a cavalier approach to this virus, either because they have COVID fatigue, or just don’t think they are at risk of contracting monkeypox.

“Our worry with any infectious illness is that people won’t take it seriously until it happens to them,” he said. “You saw it with COVID-19. So many people wouldn’t take the vaccine until a loved one died."

It is highly unlikely that monkeypox will ever reach a transmission rate as high as SARS-CoV-2. It is not airborne, so to spread this, one has to be in close contact with an infected person.

“This is not spread from sharing a quick car ride with someone or working across a desk from someone. This is close, often intimate contacts,” Hall stated.

Of Kentucky’s 24 confirmed cases, at least 22 of them are men. Hall says that while monkeypox isn’t technically a sexually transmitted disease, men who are involved in same-sex encounters seem to be more susceptible than others.

“It can also be spread through hugging, kissing, that kind of close contact. It doesn’t have to be through a sexual act to be spread,” Hall added.

As University of Kentucky professor Ilhem Messaoudi told LEX 18 last week, even sharing an article of unwashed clothing or bed linens can spread the virus.

Again, both Dr. Messaoudi and Hall are not asking for people to let this consume their lives at this point. Three cases out of more than 300,000 people in the country is a blip on the radar. But, the blip can grow quickly if we’re not being careful.

“All it takes is for a case being spread into a daycare, which we’ve seen in other parts of the country, where it could really spread rapidly from kid to caregiver,” Mr. Hall said.