By Jasmine Hall
Wyoming Tribune Eagle
Via- Wyoming News Exchange
CHEYENNE — The Wyoming Department of Health announced Monday morning that the first monkeypox case in a Wyoming resident has been identified in Laramie County.
Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH, said public health representatives are following up with the individual to see if additional Wyoming residents are at higher risk of contracting monkeypox due to direct contact with the adult man, who was tested within the last week.
“Because monkeypox spreads through close, intimate contact we do not believe the risk for the virus is now a higher concern for the local community or for most people in Wyoming,” she said in a statement. “Monkeypox does not spread easily like familiar viruses such as influenza or COVID-19.”
As of Aug. 18, there were more than 14,000 monkeypox cases confirmed in the U.S. by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The highest number of cases are located in New York and California.
WDH Public Information Officer Kim Deti told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle that the agency would not be surprised to see additional cases in the state but can’t predict how many or when those might be identified.
She reiterated that unlike other viruses witnessed during the pandemic, it can’t be spread in situations such as being in an elevator with someone infected or touching a shopping cart.
Monkeypox is characterized by a rash with other symptoms such as fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and tiredness. It is rarely fatal, but it is unpleasant and painful and can cause serious illness in some people, according to WDH. Experts have been tracking a growing outbreak of monkeypox in areas that don’t normally report the disease, including across the United States.
“Symptoms usually start within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus. If someone has flu-like symptoms, they will usually develop a rash 1-4 days later,” according to the health organization. “Monkeypox can be spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.”
Detailed facts, including rash photos, data and prevention recommendations are available from the CDC at https://www.cdc.gov/
“We do want to prevent further spread within our state as much as possible. That’s why we will recommend vaccination for people who have been exposed to monkeypox, and also for people who may be more likely to get monkeypox based on the current outbreak and how it has been spreading,” Harrist said in the Monday news release.
The following people are eligible for pre-exposure vaccination if they live or work in Wyoming:
- Men who have sex with men and who have had multiple or anonymous sexual partners in the last year
- Partners of men who have sex with men who have had multiple or anonymous sexual partners in the last year
- Transgender and nonbinary persons assigned male at birth who have sex with multiple or anonymous sexual partners who are male or male assigned at birth within the past year
- Sex workers (of any sex)
“While anyone can become ill with monkeypox, vaccine eligibility is currently limited to people who are at highest risk in connection with this outbreak and how it’s spreading,” Harrist said in the release. “The goal is to put available vaccine supplies to the best possible use.”
Deti said she doesn’t know the exact amount of vaccination doses the state has, but it is a small supply. She said there are different circumstances in which it would be used, including for someone identified as high risk of infection post-exposure to an individual who tested positive for monkeypox.
Eligible individuals interested in vaccination appointments should contact the public health office in their area. Contact information for county public health offices can be found at https://health.wyo.gov/
Every Tuesday and Friday, Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department will offer pre-exposure Jynneous (monkeypox) vaccine to individuals who meet the criteria. Call 307-633-4000 to schedule an appointment.
There is no proof of eligibility for the pre-exposure vaccination required, and details will be discussed with a local health provider. This applies for patients showing symptoms, as well.
“That would be the best thing to do, because they’re going to know the patient the best,” Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department Director Kathy Emmons said. “And we always recommend people go with their local provider.”
While available monkeypox vaccine doses are being provided by the federal government through the state at no cost, a small administration fee may be charged.
More Wyoming-related information and updates about monkeypox can be found at https://health.wyo.gov/