Advance Notice: Briefs

Contact your local health dept. about vaccination if you’ve been exposed to monkeypox, DHHS says

By: - July 29, 2022 3:31 am

This digitally-colorized electron microscopic (EM) image depicted monkeypox virus particles, obtained from a clinical sample associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. It was a thin section image from of a human skin sample. On the left were mature, oval-shaped virus particles, and on the right were the crescents, and spherical particles of immature virions | CDC/ Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regnery, Hannah Bullock

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is encouraging individuals potentially exposed to monkeypox to contact their local health department about vaccination. 

“Although the vaccine supply is limited, we are striving to utilize all doses of vaccine as soon as they become available to help mitigate spread,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, DHHS chief medical executive. “We have issued guidance to our local health department partners to help ensure those most at risk from MPV are prioritized.”

Michigan has received more than 3,800 doses of the vaccine and will use all available doses as first doses during its initial distribution. Second doses will be provided when more vaccines are available.

DHHS said its vaccination strategy will evolve in response to the monkeypox outbreak and vaccine availability. Its current guidance will focus on vaccinating individuals following intermediate or high risk exposure to monkeypox to prevent illness as well as vaccinating individuals with at-risk behavior in areas where monkeypox has been transmitted in the past two weeks. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends exposed individuals be vaccinated within four days from the date of exposure to prevent the onset of the disease. If given between four and 14 days after exposure the vaccine may reduce symptoms, but may not prevent monkeypox. 

Monkeypox infection may begin with flu-like symptoms and swelling of the lymph nodes progressing to a rash on the face and body. Potential symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and back aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a rash similar to pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth and on other parts of the body. 

The virus is contagious while the rash is present until the scabs fall off, with symptoms typically lasting two to four weeks.

Monkeypox spreads through close personal contact, including: direct contact with a monkeypox rash, scabs or bodily fluids from an infected person; contact with an infected person through activities like sex, hugging, massaging, kissing and prolonged face-to-face contact; touching objects or fabrics used by someone with monkeypox; or contact with respiratory secretions.

DHHS advises anyone experiencing monkeypox symptoms to avoid attending any gatherings and to contact a healthcare provider for an evaluation.

Local health departments may contact individuals identified as close contacts to a monkeypox case about receiving the vaccine. Individuals with known or suspected contact with a monkeypox, are advised to contact their local health department for more information.

Monkeypox vaccines have been distributed to hubs in the city of Detroit and Oakland, Washtenaw, Kent, Kalamazoo, Ingham, Genesee and Grand Traverse counties, which will redistribute vaccines to other areas of the state as needed. 

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Kyle Davidson
Kyle Davidson

Kyle Davidson is a reporting intern for the Michigan Advance. A recent MSU graduate, Kyle studied journalism and political science. He has reported on community events, breaking news, state policy, and the environment for outlets including the Lansing State Journal, the Detroit Free Press and Capital News Service.