ATLANTA - Health officials in Georgia say the number of cases of monkeypox in the state has now reached to double digits.
The state Department of Public Health reported Friday that the number of patients who have contracted the virus now stands at 11 as of Friday. That number puts the Peach State as one of the 10 states with the greatest number of cases in the United States.
Officials say all the patients are men who live in the metro Atlanta area and are not believed to have had contact with each other. All the patients have been asked to isolate and are being monitored by the Georgia DPH.
The first case in Georgia of the virus was confirmed in early June. Since then, the number of cases across the country as quickly escalated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting more the half of the states reporting at least one case. California has reported the most cases of the outbreak, with nearly 100 people testing positive for the virus.
Digitally-colorized electron microscopic (EM) image depicting a monkeypox virion (virus particle), obtained from a clinical sample associated with a 2003 prairie dog outbreak, published June 6, 2022. (Courtesy CDC/Goldsmith at al. (Photo via Smith Co
Most monkeypox patients experience only fever, body aches, chills and fatigue. People with more serious illness may develop a rash and lesions on the face and hands that can spread to other parts of the body.
The disease is endemic in parts of Africa, where people have been infected through bites from rodents or small animals. It does not usually spread easily among people.
Last month, cases began emerging in Europe and the United States. Many — but not all — of those who contracted the virus had traveled internationally. Most were men who have sex with men, but health officials stress that anyone can get monkeypox.
Case counts have continued to grow. As of Tuesday, the U.S. had identified 306 cases in 27 states and the District of Columbia. More than 4,700 cases have been found in more than 40 other countries outside the areas of Africa where the virus is endemic.
There have been no U.S. deaths and officials say the risk to the American public is low. But they are taking steps to assure people that medical measures are in place to deal with the growing problem.
A two-dose vaccine, Jynneos, is approved for monkeypox in the U.S. The government has many more doses of an older smallpox vaccine — ACAM2000 — that they say could also be used, but that vaccine is considered to have a greater risk of side effects and is not recommended for people who have HIV. So it’s the Jynneos vaccine that officials have been trying to use as a primary weapon against the monkeypox outbreak.
So far, the government has deployed over 9,000 doses of vaccine. In June U.S. officials said they are increasing the amount of Jynneos vaccine they are making available, allocating 56,000 doses immediately and about 240,000 more over the coming weeks. They promised more than 1 million more over the coming months.
Anyone with a rash that looks like monkeypox should talk to their healthcare provider, even if you do not believe you have had contact with anyone who has contracted the virus.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.