ARKANSAS, USA — The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) confirms there are now 15 cases of monkeypox in the state.
The vaccine for the virus is now available in our area. ADH has a list on its website showing locations with the monkeypox vaccine.
Of the 15 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Arkansas, ADH says those are all among men who have had sex with other men which is consistent with what is happening on a national level.
“We do anticipate the number of cases will continue to increase and for that reason, we are offering vaccine doses to people who have known exposure to someone with monkeypox,” said Dr. Jennifer Dillaha.
Dr. Jennifer Dillaha says people who have been at an event or setting where monkeypox has been known to spread can also get the vaccine.
Currently, the ADH unit in Washington County is the only place in our area to get the vaccine. Community Clinic in Springdale as well as AR Care in Springdale should have the vaccine later this week. She says there will be training on how to give doses, so the vaccine we have can go further.
“We’ve been working with pharmacies that have good connections with the LGBT community so that they are able to communicate directly to their patients that it’s available. I think that is important,” she said.
Dr. Dillaha says this virus spreads most commonly from direct skin-to-skin contact with the infection. She says if the vaccine is given within about four days of exposure it’s possible it could prevent the illness and if taken up to 14 days after exposure it could make the illness milder. She doesn’t think parents should be concerned because no children have been infected in Arkansas and say it is very unlikely to transmit in schools. The rash starts out as a red area that starts out flat and then raised.
“It forms vesicles which is like a pimple, but it’s got clear fluid in it and so that could look like a chicken pox. It may be hard to distinguish at that point. It progressing to be puss filled, so it’s called a pustule,” she said.
Symptoms of monkeypox can include fever, headache and muscle aches as well as swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. But the tell-tale sign of monkeypox is a rash that looks like pimples or blisters.
The CDC is now reporting that there are 11 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Oklahoma.