Monkeypox is spreading in Minnesota, but risk remains low
There have been 87 cases identified in Minnesota this summer and 82 of those were in the Twin Cities.
ST. PAUL -- Monkeypox is spreading in Minnesota and health care providers are doing what they can to vaccinate as many high-risk people as possible with the limited amount of doses available.
State health officials emphasize the risk to the general public remains low. There have been 87 cases identified in Minnesota this summer and 82 of those were in the Twin Cities.
All known Minnesota infections are in adults ages 22 to 62. The current monkeypox outbreak is predominantly in men who have sex with other men, but five women in Minnesota also have tested positive.
Health officials say while monkeypox typically is spread through prolonged close contact during sex, it can also be spread through bed linens, clothing or prolonged face-to-face contact. Spread is most likely when there is contact between broken skin and lesions or sores.
“Anyone can get monkeypox, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” Dan Huff, assistant commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Health. “This isn’t a disease that targets one group of people, and it is very important that we avoid stigmatizing any groups because they are affected more at this time.”
There have been cases of transmission in Minnesota, as well as residents who returned to the state after traveling both domestically and internationally.
Huff emphasized that monkeypox does not spread as easily as respiratory viruses like the coronavirus or influenza.
Health officials are in the process of developing guidance for youth and collegiate sports where skin-to-skin contact is more common. But they noted that prolonged contact with lesions is the most common way it is spread and the general risk of infection through casual contact is low.
So far, Minnesota has received about 6,000 vials of monkeypox vaccine. To get more vaccine doses out of a single vial, health care providers are administering the vaccine through shallow skin injections rather than into the muscle.
That gets about four doses from a single vial rather than one. Vaccination still is limited to people who are very high-risk or who have been exposed to someone who is infected.
Anyone who suspects they have monkeypox symptoms should contact their health care provider to see if they need to be tested. Those who believe they were exposed should monitor for symptoms including a rash and blisters on the skin, fever, headache, muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes.
Antivirals are effective against monkeypox. Most infected people recover on their own after three to four weeks, but some cases are severe or life-threatening, especially if someone develops pneumonia or sepsis.
The most dangerous and painful cases are those when people develop legions near the eyes, mouth, urethra or rectum. Three Minnesotans have been hospitalized with monkeypox to address pain.
While vaccines and treatments are effective against monkeypox, health officials say it also is important to do things to slow the spread, such as regular hand washing and avoiding contact with infected people.
Nationally, there have been more than 13,000 cases identified, with some in nearly every state. For more information about vaccines, visit: health.state.mn.us/diseases/monkeypox/index.html .
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