For Immediate Release: 7/13/2022 9:32 am
WORCESTER – While the United States experiences an ongoing monkeypox outbreak, City of Worcester health officials assure residents that it does not currently constitute an emergency. However, monkeypox does present a public health risk, and residents should be advised of precautions to take and what to do in the case of a suspected infection.
As of July 12, 929 total cases have been reported across the country, with 44 in Massachusetts. No cases have been reported in Worcester, and no deaths have been associated with monkeypox in the United States. It is also far less contagious and more easily contained than COVID-19.
How It Spreads
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), monkeypox is a disease that can cause mild to severe illness, including flu-like symptoms and a rash, which may resemble pimples, blisters, or lesions. It can be spread to anyone through close, skin-to-skin contact including:
Direct contact with rash symptoms is believed to be the most common source of spread. Monkeypox can be easily passed between sexual partners due to close skin contact, and any person, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, can acquire and spread it.
Symptoms of monkeypox infection typically appear one to two weeks following exposure and can include:
Rashes appear one to three days later, typically on the face, palms, arms, legs, chest, genitals, or perianal region, as well as inside the mouth, vagina, or anus. Sores can itch and be painful to the touch and may take two to four weeks to crust and fall off. Infected individuals are considered contagious until the rash is completely gone.
Treatment and Vaccination
City health officials advise any resident who suspects they have been infected to contact their healthcare provider as soon as possible and to avoid skin-to-skin contact with others until being examined. They should also alert anyone they may have been in close physical contact with about potential exposure.
Vaccines for monkeypox were previously developed, although their supply is currently limited. The federal government is implementing a national vaccine strategy to prioritize areas with the highest rates of the disease, which includes Massachusetts. To be eligible for vaccination, residents must meet the CDC’s criteria, which are:
Anyone who lives or works in Massachusetts and whose eligibility is confirmed by a healthcare provider may schedule a vaccine appointment by calling one of the following organizations:
For additional information and the latest updates related to monkeypox, please visit mass.gov/monkeypox or cdc.gov/monkeypox.