Getting The Message Out About Monkeypox Was Brought Up During a Md. Health Department Update

Officials say they need to keep people more up to date on this virus.

Baltimore, Md. (KM) – How to get the message out about monkeypox was brought during a community update Wednesday sponsored by the Maryland Department of Health.

Medical experts say a lot of people contract the virus through skin contact. They also says men who have sex with men are in danger. That brought this response from Jean-Michel Breverlle. “Part of my frustration is I’m just not going to listen anymore to anyone talking about gay, bisexual, and same gender loving men and trans people being at higher risk when they can’t tell me why, “he said “I’m sick of that crap.”

“And I would love to work more with this group, with you, with others to try and get to a much better place,” responded Dr. Peter DeMartino, the Director of Infectious Diseases for the Maryland Health Department.

Monkeypox was endemic to the parts of western and southern Africa, with cases coming from  infected animals. It was detected in Europe earlier this year and is in the United States.  . Its symptoms include fever, muscle aches, headaches, swollen lymph nodes and chills, and blister like rash.  Medical officials say anyone can contract it.  

The World Health Organization has declared monkeypox a global health emergency.

During Wednesday’s briefing, the Maryland Health Department said there are about 19,188 cases of the disease worldwide, and 3,000 in the United States. Maryland hare recorded 101 monkeypox cases, most in Baltimore city, and Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. There are 191 in Washington DC,  40 in Virginia, 95 in Pennsylvania, 3 in Delaware and 1 in West Virginia.

Another citizen who spoke during Wednesday’s meeting was Linda D, who said it’s important to emphasize how real the risk is for contracting this virus. “It’s really our responsibility to make sure that the people know that the risk is real, and that they need to be careful of certain things. And you need to be educated on how this gets transmitted,:” she said.

Thomas says  more information needs to come out about the pain suffered by individuals who contract monkeypox. ” When messaging goes out about symptoms, we need to include the intense pain that a lot of people suffer because of lesions to perform daily functions such eating and going to the bathroom,” he said. “My friend, for instance, who had it, said it was the most painful experience he’s ever had in his life. And I think that by not discussing that it’s showing a lack of empathy to the folks who have monkeypox.”

Mark Cole suggested more emphasis be placed on vaccines. “If I can get a vaccination, and not have to wait until I have exposure, then that’s the best route for me to take,” he said. “And I don’t know if people are really saying that.”

Dr. DeMartino said the state has 6,505 vaccines for monkeypox which comes from the federal government. It’s the Jynneos smallpox and monkeypox vaccine which is administered in two doses. Jynneos is the preferred vaccine because it carries a smaller chance of side effects. The US is still building up supplies for the vaccine.

Wednesday’s update which lasted  an hour and a half was transmitted over the Zoom platform. Department of Health Officials say they plan to hold a future update on monkeypox.

By Kevin McManus