For Immediate Release: 8/15/2022 4:09 pm
WORCESTER – The City of Worcester has published a new webpage (worcesterma.gov/public-health/monkeypox) to provide residents with the latest updates regarding monkeypox and the local response to the viral disease.
As of Monday, Aug. 15, there have been 11,177 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the United States, including 202 in Massachusetts and seven in Worcester. There have been no deaths attributed to monkeypox, and it has shown to be far less contagious than other viruses, such as COVID-19. However, officials urge residents to take its risk seriously, and earlier this month, the United States declared monkeypox a national public health emergency.
The City of Worcester is prioritizing treatment and prevention efforts for populations currently at most risk, with a particular focus on individuals with multiple sexual partners; those in repeated close contact with others, including sports teams; and those living in close quarters, such as in group housing and dorms. The city is seeking to expand its access to vaccines, and residents will be notified as its capacity increases.
In the meantime, the new webpage includes up-to-date information and resources from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) about how monkeypox spreads, precautions to take, and how to seek treatment.
Monkeypox is spread most often through close, personal skin-to-skin contact including direct contact with the rash, contact with surfaces and objects that have been used by an individual with monkeypox, and prolonged contact with bodily fluids, such as through kissing. Any person, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, can acquire and spread it.
Symptoms include a painful or itchy rash resembling pimples or blisters, often preceded for 1 – 4 days by flu-like symptoms. Individuals can spread monkeypox to others from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed.
The CDC recommends the following steps for individuals to protect themselves from getting monkeypox:
The CDC also recommends vaccination for people who have been exposed to monkeypox or are more likely to be exposed through sexual activity. Currently, high-risk individuals may contact AIDS Project Worcester at 508-755-3773 x113 to schedule a vaccine appointment. However, due to severely limited supply, availability is currently low.
Additional details on vaccine eligibility and other locations in Massachusetts offering appointments can be found at mass.gov/info-details/monkeypox-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. Anyone with monkeypox is urged to follow the CDC’s isolation guidelines.
For additional information and the latest updates related to monkeypox, please visit mass.gov/monkeypox or cdc.gov/monkeypox.