How the Capital Region is preparing for monkeypox

CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) – For the second time in just over two years, the World Health Organization has declared an outbreak a global emergency. Last week, the WHO gave that distinction to monkeypox, which has infected at least 2,800 people in the United States to this point.

As of last Friday, the Centers for Disease Control has identified 2,891 cases of monkeypox in 44 states, with New York having the most cases. The vast majority of cases in the state have been limited to New York City and other downstate areas.

In the Capital Region, Albany, Columbia and Greene Counties have each identified a single positive monkeypox case since the outbreak began, with all three reporting their first cases last week.

In part, a spokesperson for Albany County Executive Dan McCoy released the following statement on the county’s efforts to combat monkeypox, “Our County Health Department has been working to ensure appropriate and responsible distribution of vaccine by engaging area healthcare providers and community-based organizations to develop a comprehensive plan that prioritizes those at the highest risk of exposure.”

Albany County has secured a limited number of monkeypox vaccines. Part of its strategy will include allocating shots to Albany Medical Center for their clinic.

Elsewhere in the Capital Region, Saratoga County was selected by the state to distribute the vaccine because of its influx of tourists during the busy summer season. Through their past clinics, the county says its inoculated 240 to this point.

A spokesperson for the county says 130 additional people are scheduled to be vaccinated at its next clinic on Wednesday. Saratoga County is planning on hosting an additional clinic later this week, with a time and location expected in the near future.

Monkeypox is rarely deadly, with deaths from this outbreak contained to Africa to this point. The virus is typically spread through contact with infectious rashes and bodily fluid, as well as during physical contact like kissing and sex.

According to the WHO, around 99% of cases outside of Africa to this point have been in men, with a vast majority impacting men who have sex with men.

The Pride Center of the Capital Region is concerned about the stigma this trend presents, “There’s rampant fear in the community, and a lot of it is because of the messaging and a lot of it is because of the way people have already begun treating us in public,” said Nathaniel Gray, the center’s executive director.

Gray is concerned the public hasn’t learned from the past, noting the stigma that was associated with the AIDS outbreak when it first began sweeping across the United States in the 1980s.

According to the CDC, monkeypox causes flu-like symptoms, as well as a rash resembling pimples or blisters.

Monkeypox vaccines are given in two-dose regimens. Per the CDC, it’s still unclear what the effectiveness of the vaccines are during this current outbreak, as there is no data available at this point.

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