Kansas monkeypox update: contact tracing, testing underway

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Doctors in Kansas are monitoring new cases of monkeypox, as a positive case of the rare disease has been discovered in the Kansas City metro area.

A positive case has been identified in Johnson County. It is one of the most populated areas in the state, where the first positive case of coronavirus was also discovered.

Charlie Hunt, deputy director of the Johnson County Health Department, said the department’s response to the positive case of monkeypox is nowhere near the level of concern they had for the coronavirus.

“With COVID-19, the virus that caused it was a new virus…that’s not the case with Monkeypox,” Hunt told the Kansas Capitol Office in an interview. “Monkey pox has been around for a long time. It was first discovered in the 1950s, and then the first human case was in 1970, so we’ve seen monkeypox in humans before.

“We are not afraid. I would say… it’s a disease of concern,” he said. “We want to do everything to prevent it. For people who are infected, it is certainly a disease that can be very uncomfortable. »

Hunt said the department is currently addressing the presence of the disease through “information sharing.” The agency is monitoring guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the state health department.

The department is also receiving phone calls from people concerned that they may have symptoms.

“We’ve had calls from people who are concerned that they have monkeypox,” Hunt said. “They are experiencing similar symptoms and we are trying to refer them to their health care providers.”

Hunt said they are working with health care providers to conduct testing and contact tracing to identify any other positive cases.

“People hear a lot about it,” Hunt said. “It made a lot of headlines. So I think people are calling because of that. As to whether or not there are additional cases here, that’s just something we’re not sure about. »

In the state capital, doctors are also ready to deal with possible infections.

Dr Clif Jones, infectious disease specialist at Stormont Vail Health, said treatment protocols for a potential case would be similar to those for coronavirus.

“I think we will see cases,” Dr Jones said. “I think they will be very sporadic, and I think the majority of people won’t be in hospital. If we have a suspected case, we have isolation protocols for just about any type of infection or potential infection you can imagine.

“The protection required for a possible case of Monkeypox would be a face mask, gloves and high protection,” he explained.

So far, about a thousand cases of monkeypox have been identified in the United States. Health officials said the disease is usually spread through close, skin-to-skin contact. Most patients suffer from fever, body aches, chills and fatigue. Severe illness can cause painful skin lesions that appear on the face and hands, spreading to other parts of the body.

Screening for monkeypox usually involves swabbing one of the lesions that accompanies the disease. In the past, smallpox vaccines were used to treat the disease.

The United States is now ramping up shipments of monkeypox vaccine doses as cases rise.

“At this time, the monkeypox vaccine is not recommended for widespread use,” Dr Jones said. “It will be recommended for exposed people. So it will be on a case by case basis. »