Eight cases of monkeypox confirmed in southwest Virginia

Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 5:42 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The Virginia Department of Health is now reporting 200 cases of monkeypox throughout the Commonwealth. As the cases continue to increase, the government declared a federal emergency for the virus.

The Roanoke City and Allegheny Health District director explained with eight cases in the southwest Virginia region, the federal emergency status shouldn’t be concerning for the community.

“When most people hear ‘federal emergency’, they think that that means that they are at risk and that is not at all the case,” Dr. Cynthia Morrow said. “When we have an emergency declaration it allows us to use our resources appropriately to respond to that emergency.”

The health department could use resources from the federal government if monkeypox cases increase.

“At this point we have plenty of capacity both to do our case investigations, our contact tracing, to do our vaccine efforts,” Dr. Morrow said. “We haven’t had to tap into any additional resources, but the declaration gives us that flexibility.”

Vaccines are available for people considered at high risk of exposure and isn’t recommended for the general public. Carilion Clinic’s Chair of Institutional Review Board and doctor of infectious diseases explained those who are exposed should contact their physician and get a vaccine.

“At this point in time, we are not concerned about a major issue,” Dr. Charles Schleupner said. “People need to be aware, however, if they are having close intimate contact with an individual, it’s wise to know that individual.”

There’s enough vaccine supply for the current level of cases and exposures. The health department is offering at-risk individuals the monkeypox vaccine.

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