A local doctor discusses the increase in Monkeypox after the WHO declared it a global emergency

JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – After the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern, News4JAX spoke to a local infectious disease specialist to learn more about the rise in infection.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States is reporting more than 2,800 probable or confirmed cases of monkeypox in 44 states, DC and Puerto Rico.

Globally, more than 16,500 cases have been reported in 74 countries and five deaths in Africa. Doctors say Europe is the epicenter of the outbreak.

As of Thursday, 247 cases of monkeypox had been reported in Florida. 124 cases have been reported in Broward County alone. Alachua County is reporting one case so far.

RELATED: Monkeypox likely to make it to Jacksonville, local doctor says | Florida Department of Health reports confirmed case of monkeypox in Duval County

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Dr Mohammed Reza said the total number of cases was underestimated.

“The reality is that the number of infections is probably underestimated, simply because of limited knowledge. First, limited testing capabilities. We don’t have too many labs doing these tests,” Reza said.

The first symptoms of Monkeypox are swollen lymph nodes, back pain, muscle aches, lack of energy and headaches.

A rash will then follow these symptoms and lesions may appear on the face, arms and legs. Usually, these lesions disappear in two to three weeks, and then the person is no longer contagious.

Unlike COVID-19, there are already treatment options for monkeypox. One of them is the smallpox vaccine.

There are antivirals for the virus, but Reza said testing can be difficult.

“Just as COVID-19 was initially difficult to diagnose, we are kind of at that stage. But unlike COVID-19, it’s not as contagious and hopefully not as severe,” Reza said.

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Reza said this virus is something people shouldn’t fear. Instead, he suggests people arm themselves with knowledge.

“If you see this in loved ones, be aware, get help. Talk to your supplier and see what can be done,” Reza said.

Monkeypox virus can be spread through contact with body fluids, wounds, or objects such as clothing and bedding contaminated with the virus. It can also spread from person to person through respiratory droplets, usually in close surroundings, according to the CDC.

More cases this year have been in men who have sex with men, and public health officials are focusing prevention efforts on this group.

Reza also said that monkeypox can spread to pets, so it’s recommended that you quarantine them as well if you’re infected.

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