ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A local doctor said he is seeing patients who have symptoms of monkeypox.
Dr. Bob Wallace, a family practice physician at Love the Golden Rule in St. Pete, said he has seen about six patients presenting symptoms of monkeypox.
"I had my first patient with symptoms this week. We actually have had six patients that we've had to refer them to the health department who have been exposed to a known monkeypox case. This patient had fever, headache, tiredness and had not yet developed a rash. We were able to get him vaccinated immediately," said Dr. Wallace.
According to the CDC, monkeypox is part of the same family of viruses as smallpox. Monkeypox is rarely fatal. Symptoms may include: fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a rash that looks like pimples or blisters.
The illness typically last 2-4 weeks. It is spread by direct contact with the infected person or by contaminated items like utensils, bedding and clothing.
"We’re working with the health department. They’re actually seeking sites right now that will be vaccination distribution centers. We’ve not completed that process," Dr. Wallace said.
The United States is reporting the most cases of any other country in the globe. More than 3,400 cases have been reported in the United States with at least 2 children becoming infected with the virus, according to the CDC.
Florida is reporting at least 270 cases.
"This virus is much less contagious than COVID 19. It requires real, close physical contact between individuals to transmit so it’s continuing to grow, but it’s growing at a much slower rate than like a respiratory virus," said Dr. Thomas Unnasch, a distinguished professor with USF Health.
The CDC said two vaccines are licenses by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and are available for preventing monkeypox. CDC recommends that the vaccine be given within 4 days from the date of exposure for the best chance to prevent the onset of the disease.
The CDC said antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox may be used to prevent and treat monkeypox virus infection.
If you believe you may have been exposed to monkeypox, contact your local health department.
For more information visit the Florida Department of Health here.