Montgomery County health officials are remaining vigilant as concern continues over the ongoing transmission of monkeypox and COVID-19.
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus, according to the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services. It can spread through human-to-human contact.
Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle ache, swollen lymph nodes and a rash. Most cases of monkeypox do not require hospitalization, but the disease is highly contagious in individuals with symptoms, according to the county health and human services department.
The World Health Organization declared the disease a “global health emergency” last month.
Who can get monkeypox?
Anyone can contract monkeypox regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, but a number of cases in the current outbreak are among gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men, according to Mary Anderson, spokesperson for the county health and human services department.
Are there any cases in the county?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists 117 cases of monkeypox in Maryland as of Monday, with 5,189 total cases in the United States. The Maryland Department of Health first reported a presumed monkeypox case June 16.
All monkeypox cases are tracked by the state health department, which does not identify the exact locations of cases in order to protect privacy, according to Anderson.
Can I get a monkeypox vaccination?
The county has received a very limited number of monkeypox vaccine doses, Anderson said in a July 20 press release. Under guidance from the state health department, the county is offering vaccinations to a limited number of eligible residents who are at highest risk of contracting the virus.
Monkeypox vaccinations will be limited to known contacts of monkeypox cases as well as presumed contacts who have had a sexual partner in the past 14 days who was diagnosed with monkeypox.
Are the vaccines effective?
When administered before an exposure, vaccines are effective at protecting people against monkeypox, according to the CDC.
The CDC recommends patients receive the vaccine within 4 days from the date of exposure in order to prevent the disease. If given between four and 14 days after the date of exposure, vaccines may reduce symptoms but may not prevent the disease.
COVID-19 cases declining in county
Last week, officials identified the county as an area of “high” transmission for COVID-19. The CDC implemented the “low,” “medium,” and “high” metrics to make the higher levels more reflective of the number of hospitalizations than the spread of the virus itself.
There were 10.6 COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 residents over a seven-day period as of Sunday, according to the county’s COVID-19 dashboard. This marks a slight decline when compared to last week, when there were 12.6 hospital admissions per 100,000 residents over a seven-day period.
There were 226.42 cases per 100,000 residents in the past seven days as of Saturday, which is a decrease from the 243.17 cases per 100,000 residents that had been reported in the seven days preceding July 23, according to the county’s COVID-19 dashboard.
Almost all county residents have received at least one vaccine dose. The county’s COVID-19 dashboard shows 95% of residents have received their first vaccine dose, 89% have received their second and 58% have received at least one booster.