Chicago's monkeypox cases have hiked past 300, and the city's health department is urging the public to take added precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.
If you suspect that you may have contracted monkeypox, you should isolate yourself from physical contact with others and take a test, as the virus can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact.
Those who catch monkeypox often start to display flu-like symptoms, such as fevers, headaches and swelling. As the virus spreads, rashes and lesions will emerge on the face and body before developing into blisters and scabbing over.
"Whether you just have a few new ... pimples or blisters on your hands or on your face — or what we are seeing many more people have lesions in the general area, especially if it's related to sexual contact — go and get checked because that's the way to get diagnosed," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Thursday. "Nobody can say whether or not you have monkeypox based on what it looks like."
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The test for monkeypox involves a swab of the lesion. If the test produces a positive result, individuals often can recover without specific treatments being required.
There is an FDA-approved antiviral that can be described for patients who are more at-risk of serious illness. That treatment is known as TPOXX, and according to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the medication can be ordered from the Strategic National Stockpile, but must be sent to local health departments.
Dr. Arwady said the treatment tends to be reserved for people who are immunocompromised or getting "more seriously ill" in Chicago.
Chicago also has started rolling out vaccines, but the supply is extremely limited, so the city is prioritizing first doses to high-risk individuals.
Currently, you are eligible for the two-dose vaccine if you have had close physical contact with a confirmed case or if you're a man who has had sex with another man and have done so in a social or sexual venue. Additionally, those who received money in exchange for sex or have had sex with anonymous partners are eligible.
CDPH noted that while delays are expected for some people who are eligible for their second doses, "the first dose provides the most substantial increase in antibodies that protect against the virus."
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 19,000 doses of the vaccine have been shipped to Chicago so far. Other areas of Illinois have received nearly 7,500 doses of the vaccine as of Tuesday, according to officials.
In all, more than 310,000 doses of the vaccine have been delivered to local health departments.
Chicago over the weekend received 15,000 doses from the federal government and the city is expected another shipment soon, with the exact numbers not yet known.
"Our team was in over the weekend right away, started packaging up... and we've been distributing every day thousands just over the last few days," Arwady said. "Our goal is to get these out quickly."