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More monkeypox cases found in Washoe County, officials say to avoid skin-to-skin contact

By Bob Conrad

A national health emergency was declared yesterday by the Biden administration, and today, Washoe County health officials said new cases of monkeypox here are becoming a growing concern.

County epidemiologist Nancy Diao said three probable cases of monkeypox have been detected in the county. 

“The current outbreak globally and nationally is of concern because we are seeing a large number of outbreaks taking place in multiple non-endemic countries around the world,” she said during an online town hall today. “This scale has never been observed in the past, and our global and national cases continue to climb.

“We do expect to see that increase as well in Washoe County as we survey those efforts.”

Diao said symptoms of the virus can be confused with sexually transmitted infections.

Few deaths have occurred globally. The county has limited vaccines available based on federal supplies – enough for about 150 people – and is reserving those doses  for healthcare workers and those who are potentially infected.

“Fortunately, monkeypox at this time appears to be less contagious than COVID.”

There have been 6,600 cases nationwide. Health officials today suggested a pandemic could be on the horizon.

They also stressed that anyone can get it through skin-to-skin contact. 

“Human-to-human transmission can result from close contact with respiratory secretions, skin lesions of an infected person or recently contaminated objects. Transmission via droplet respiratory particles usually requires prolonged face-to-face contact, which puts health workers, household members and other close contacts of active cases at greater risk,” the World Health Organization reports

It can also be spread on bedding or towels.

Symptoms

A monkeypox visual guide created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Image: CDC

The WHO website notes symptoms in the initial stages – within the first five days – are fever, intense headache, swelling of the lymph nodes, muscle and back pain and a lack of energy. 

Skin lesions appear in about three days after having a fever. 

“Fortunately, monkeypox at this time appears to be less contagious than COVID,” said Michelle Wagner with Northern Nevada HOPES. “You have to have sustained contact – skin-to-skin, car rides, that kind of thing. Try not to share towels. It can be transmitted through dirty towels.”

Wagner also recommended regular hand washing and social distancing.

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