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What Arkansans should know about Monkeypox spreading

As of today, there are more than 4,600 cases of Monkeypox in the United States. In Arkansas, there are four confirmed cases. But, it's not as infectious as COVID-19.

ARKANSAS, USA — With just four cases right now, Arkansas has a low number of Monkeypox cases compared to other states. Details about the patients or where they live have not been made public.

"There appears to be two different strains of Monkeypox circulating in the U.S. as part of this large worldwide outbreak and we’re still learning about them," said Dr. Jennifer Dillaha with the Arkansas Department of Health.

Monkeypox spreads through skin-on-skin and close contact. Anyone can get it, but so far this outbreak is primarily impacting men who have sex with men, specifically those with multiple partners, according to health officials.

“We know that the population of…what we call MSM is at high risk in Arkansas and so we want to make sure that their public health needs are addressed in whatever way that we can address them,” Dr. Dillaha said.

Dr. Dillaha says monkeypox can also be spread through contact with clothing, bed linens and other contaminated objects.

“Anyone exposed to fluid from this rash…from this pustule is very infectious but it’s not infectious in the sense that someone walking past a person would get infected…it's prolonged skin to skin contact,” Dr. Dillaha explained.

Arkansas has been allocated 800 doses of the Jynneous vaccine, which prevents Smallpox and Monkeypox. While the supply is still limited, more doses are on the way to the Natural State.

“The FDA announced yesterday that they had worked through processes to expedite that and announced yesterday that they had 800,000 doses that would be readily available,” Dr. Dillaha said.

Those who are eligible for the vaccine are people who had close contact with a known or suspected case in the last 14 days or those who have had a high-risk encounter.

“Those are the folks right now we are hoping to provide the vaccine to while we have these limited doses,” Dr. Dillaha said.

The department of health advises all suspicious cases to be evaluated by your health care provider and they’ll help decide if treatment is needed and prescribe it to you.

5NEWS reached out to Fayetteville City Health Officer Dr. Marti Sharkey, who tells us the city is working closely with U of A Student Health as students come back to campus for the fall semester as the virus could spread in communal living spaces like dorms or Greek housing.

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