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What Arkansans need to know about monkeypox

As monkeypox cases grow across the U.S., doctors and patients are reporting lengthy delays in test results and a daunting amount of paperwork just to get treatment.

ARKANSAS, USA — As monkeypox cases grow across the U.S. and here in Arkansas, doctors and patients are reporting lengthy delays in test results and a daunting amount of paperwork just to get treatment.

In just 10 weeks, the U.S. monkeypox outbreak has grown to at least 5,800 confirmed cases with testing delays and vaccines being a widespread problem.

But what exactly is monkeypox? Let's start with the name. 

What is monkeypox?

In 1958, the viral disease was found in monkeys being used for research. It was found that the monkeys were NOT the source of the illness, but that they were susceptible to it just like humans. The source of monkeypox is still unknown.

Health officials say monkeypox is in the same family of viruses as Smallpox but it is less contagious and not anywhere near as deadly.

The last monkeypox outbreak in the United States was in 2003 but totaled only 47 cases, which were all linked to pet prairie dogs infected after coming in contact with small mammals imported from Ghana. 

What are monkeypox symptoms?

During the current outbreak, the disease appears to be spreading through skin-to-skin contact with someone who is infected.

The illness has an incubation period of usually one to two weeks and can start with a fever, muscle aches and fatigue. After that, a rash develops resulting in lesions, typically lasting two to four weeks. While most people recover just fine, children and people with weakened immune systems are at risk for severe side effects.

Vaccines

The U.S. uses two types of smallpox vaccine to fight monkeypox and the CDC recommends that anyone who thinks they have been exposed, to get a shot. But that is easier said than done. 

Doctors and patients are reporting lengthy delays in test results and a daunting amount of paperwork just to get treatment. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the smallpox vaccine provides protection against other pox viruses, including monkeypox. When smallpox was eradicated globally more than 40 years ago, officials stopped vaccinating against it, which officials believe may have led to part of the monkeypox outbreak. 

RELATED: What you need to know about how Monkeypox spreads

Monkeypox Outbreak in the U.S.

As of July 28, four cases of monkeypox were reported in Arkansas

Following New York's lead, Illinois and California declared a state of emergency because of the virus outbreak.

"I'm glad we have a state of emergency because the issue has always been how quickly can we get testing vaccines treatments that we need in the ER to contain this," said Dr. Michael Daignault, an emergency room physician.

In just 10 weeks, the U.S. monkeypox outbreak has grown to at least 5,800 confirmed cases with testing delays and vaccines being a widespread problem.

As the number of cases continues to grow nationwide, President Biden's Administration has named Robert Fenton as coordinator for the federal response to the outbreak. Fenton was in charge of the COVID vaccine effort for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and will be in charge of coordinating the federal monkeypox response.

The Biden Administration is still discussing whether or not to declare monkeypox a national health emergency.

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