‘It’s not the gay virus’: Health officials address misconceptions about monkey disease

A sign on the beige wall "Anchorage Health Department"
The Anchorage Health Department has a limited supply of rabies vaccines available to eligible patients. (Joey Mendolia/Alaska Public Media)

The Identity Health Clinic in Anchorage expects to receive vaccinations for rabies in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, a non-profit organization serving the LGBTQ+ community is educating and speaking out about the virus. Misconceptions How to spread.

“Anyone can get shingles,” Identity Health Director Dr. Tracy Wise said at a virtual town hall Thursday evening. This virus isn’t just spreading because gays have sex with other gays.

Wiz monkey virus has an incubation period of one to two weeks. About 12,000 cases have been registered nationwide.There are two confirmed cases in Alaska so far. Both men in Anchorage.

“We suspect that those two people had some sort of contact with other people in their lives, and that other people may be contracting the virus as we speak,” Wise said.

Monkey disease is transmitted during prolonged face-to-face or skin-to-skin contact. It’s not just sexually transmitted, but that’s how most infected people get it. According to the World Health Organization.

It can be spread through contact with an infected person, such as towels, linens, and items that have been used for several hours.

Wise said clinic staff have received phone calls from people wanting to learn more about monkeypox. She said she wanted to help with the downsizing. Misinformation and stigmatization of how it spreads.

“This is not a gay virus. This is not a virus that is only seen among gay people,” Wise said. “The reason we’re focused on outreach in this community is that many of the reported cases fall in this community, so the natural thing is to target those communities for outreach.”

Affected individuals may have flu-like symptoms before developing a rash or sores.

Several state health officials also joined Thursday’s town hall. State epidemiologist Dr. Joe McLaughlin told the group that people can spread the virus to others before the rash occurs.

“You can have respiratory symptoms like mucus, cold or flu-like symptoms, and there’s probably a virus in those fluids,” he said. “It can be transmitted that way, but it requires long kisses and face-to-face contact for transmission to occur.”

Scientists are studying whether monkeypox can be spread through other bodily fluids, such as semen or genital fluids, and whether it can spread without symptoms.

There are now ways people can help reduce the spread. Vis said people infected with the disease should self-isolate until their symptoms improve or disappear completely. The rash should be covered well until it is completely healed.

Uninfected people should avoid close physical contact with people who have flu symptoms, sores, or rashes. And people should talk to their sex partners about any recent flu-like symptoms or new sores or rashes.

Last week, the state expanded vaccine eligibility beyond current cases and recent close contacts. Now, men and transgender people who have had sex with men and have had multiple or unidentified sexual partners in the past 14 days can get the vaccine.

People in that group should talk to their health care providers about getting vaccinated, especially if they are immunocompromised. People with a history of atopic dermatitis – including eczema, burns or severe acne – are at increased risk of developing severe disease.

State physician Dr. Lisa Rabinowitz said the sooner people can get vaccinated after exposure, the better.

“Particularly if we can get the vaccine within four days of exposure, it has the best chance of preventing monkeypox,” she said. From the fourth day to the 14th day we still give it and there is evidence that it reduces the amount of symptoms.

In Anchorage, the city has a health department. There is a limited supply of vaccines.. More information is available at 907-343-6718 or monkeypox@anchorageak.gov. According to Rabinowitz, the state hopes to work with companies like Fairweather – which Conducted covid testing sites In Anchorage until mid-July – to distribute vaccines.

Identity is expected to receive volume deliveries in the next two weeks.

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