Discover more from UnBossed! Columbus
Should We Be Taking Monkeypox as a Serious Public Health Threat in Columbus?
Monkeypox numbers are growing like wildfire by the day worldwide, all while Central Ohio residents are beginning to worry if this growing outbreak will be worst than COVID-19. The big question for UnBossed! Columbus's audience is: Should Black Columbus be concerned that monkeypox has pandemic-level implications like COVID-19? We explain.
What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the orthopoxvirus, the same family of viruses as smallpox. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus was first discovered by researchers in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1958. In the recent outbreak, countries that don’t usually report monkeypox — the United States — have noticed an alarming increase in cases.
So far there have been nearly 100 reported cases in Ohio. A spokesperson for the Columbus Department of Public Health says “as of this morning, there are 23 monkeypox cases in Franklin County, with 21 in Columbus and two in Franklin County.”
What are the symptoms?
If you think you may have monkeypox one of the most noticeable systems is a very distinctive rash located near the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus (butthole). The Columbus Department of Public Health tells UnBossed! Columbus, “lesions can really form anywhere where there is skin and it varies from person to person.”
Join the UnBossed! Columbus Fan Club. To receive new posts and support local black-owned journalism, consider becoming a free or paid member.
According to the CDC, the lesions go through four stages, where they get bigger and more deep-seated. Eventually, they scab over and heal. Experts say anyone infected with monkeypox shouldn’t leave isolation until all wounds are completely healed.
How can you get infected?
Unlike COVID-19, which is airborne, monkeypox spreads to anyone through close, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact, including direct contact with a monkeypox lesion, or body fluids from a person with monkeypox, close and prolonged contact with objects or fabrics used by someone with monkeypox, and/or close and prolonged contact with the respiratory droplets of someone with monkeypox.
Should Black residents in Central Ohio be concerned?
“While anyone can get monkeypox, current data shows that the virus is spreading most rapidly between gay and bisexual men," Molly Brewer spokesperson for the Columbus Department of Public Health tells UnBossed! Columbus.
How can you avoid monkeypox?
There are steps you can take to avoid catching the disease. If you can secure a vaccine appointment, do so. But also, take as many precautions as you can during sex. The CDC recommends having candid conversations with sexual partners about any recent illnesses, and avoiding sex if you or a partner has an unexplained rash.
If you go to social gatherings, you’re less likely to contract monkeypox around fully clothed people who are outside. Try to minimize skin-to-skin contact when you go to social gatherings.
Monkeypox is contagious but not as transmissible, nor as deadly, as COVID-19.
If you do come into contact with someone who has monkeypox, try to isolate yourself as much as possible. Also, contact your primary care physician or your local health department.
To keep up with the spread of monkeypox, experts suggest following updates on the CDC’s websites, the World Health Organization, or any trusted source.
How is monkeypox treated? Is there a vaccine?
There is no specific treatment for monkeypox, according to the CDC. However, since monkeypox and smallpox are genetically similar, antivirals to treat it, like tecovirimat (TPOXX), can be given to people who have been diagnosed with monkeypox to help reduce pain and shorten the duration of symptoms.
If you have symptoms of monkeypox, the Columbus Department of Public Health is encouraging everyone to reach out to their healthcare provider immediately to discuss the next steps.