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Public health officials in Kansas City area stand ready if Monkeypox outbreak occurs

Monkeypox vaccine
Posted at 8:56 PM, Aug 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-01 23:32:08-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As of Monday, there are 10 cases of Monkeypox in Missouri and just one in Kansas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Public Health leaders hope it remains low, but are ready if the Kansas City area experienced a surge.

The Kansas City Missouri Health Department is one of just five places in the state storing the Monkeypox vaccine.

"Right now, we are only providing vaccine to those that we know have been confirmed or contact to a confirmed case," Tiffany Wilkinson, division manager of communicable disease prevention for the department said.

So far, the KCMO Health Department administered three doses locally, just a sliver of the 900 doses they received from the state to treat 450 people in the Kansas City area and throughout Northwest Missouri.

"It's going to be quicker for us to provide it to them than waiting for the vaccine to come all the way from Jefferson City, or other parts of the state," Wilkinson said.

Kansas has recorded just one case of Monkeypox in Johnson County.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment told KSHB 41 News it has 214 doses of the vaccine for 108 people.

A spokersperson for KDHE sent KSHB 41 the following statement on how it's administering the vaccine:

"Two doses have been administered in Kansas. Additional doses have been requested as part of the next phase of allotments from the CDC. This limited amount of the vaccine has been made available for use in Kansas to individuals with known exposure to Monkeypox “post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)”, or likely exposures to a case of Monkeypox “PEP ++” and vulnerable to developing severe disease, and within 14 days of the last date of exposure. A description of PEP and PEP++ is available on CDC website. KDHE will deploy the vaccine from a central location."
Matt Lara, KDHE

Currently, health officials are working to determine how to use the vaccine to prevent further spread of the virus that's in the same family as smallpox, but has milder symptoms.

"They may be feeling like they have the flu, they have lymph node that are inflamed, they've got a fever, they're just not feeling well," Wilkinson said. "And then sometimes, it progresses onto a rash type illness that can cover you know, it can be a small area of the body, but it can be over the entire body itself."

Doctors say Monkeypox isn't as contagious as COVID-19 and is rarely fatal.

"Really, the mode and spread of this disease is through that close, intimate contact, that skin to skin contact, but also clothing and bedding and other things that may have some of that drainage from some of those pustules on it," Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control at the University of Kansas Health System said.

As of now, many cases are among men who have sex with men.

But public health leaders say this virus can and has spread to other groups.

And although it can spread through sex, it's not an STI.

"It’s not very easily transmitted, but we don't want to negate the severity that it can get to the point to where we're seeing a number of cases like for example, New York and California," Wilkinson said.

As far as contact tracing, the KCMO Health Department is handling the process like what they did at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, where one of the department’s disease investigators will reach out to those exposed and let them know they should come in for a vaccine.