SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Just days ago, the World Health Organization declared the spread of monkeypox as a global health emergency.
As of Monday, 268 confirmed cases have been reported here in Georgia. The fifth highest mark in the U.S.
But so far, zero of those cases have been reported here in the Coastal Health District.
Dr. Timothy Connelly, Internal Medicine Physician at Memorial Health says even though there might not be any confirmed cases here in Savannah just yet, it’s very likely that people are currently carrying the disease in our area.
“The majority of monkeypox is in the Atlanta area right now. To my knowledge, we haven’t seen any monkeypox in the Savannah area,” Connelly said. “I will say that based on the epidemiology and how the disease is spreading, we almost certainly have monkeypox in Savannah even though we don’t have a confirmed case and if we don’t, it’s only a matter of time until we do.”
More than 100,000 monkeypox vaccine doses were sent to the United States just last week, with Georgia allocated to receive 3,000 of them.
According to Connelly, testing is readily available and so are vaccines for anyone that comes down with the disease and qualifies as a ‘high-risk individual.’
The virus can spread from person to person through direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids.
“Unlike COVID, with this monkeypox outbreak, we do have treatments that we know works with monkeypox. They’re FDA approved for smallpox believe it or not, but they do work on the monkeypox as well,” said Connelly. “There’s two different drugs that we have at our disposal that we get from the national stockpile if we do have somebody with monkeypox and they end up with severe symptoms requires hospitalization.”
Though the disease is most commonly identifiable by a rash, symptoms can also include fatigue and fever.
Moving forward, local health experts expect cases to continue to rise in the coming weeks and months, but not at the level COVID-19 did.
“I think monkeypox is going to continue to grow and we’re going to see more and more cases of it. Again, it’s not as easy to transmit as COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases are to transmit, and at some point it’s going to plateau and the numbers will go down,” Connelly said.
Connolly says that we have the ability to eradicate the monkeypox disease with vaccines if we must. He adds that the potential for a lockdown as a result of the monkeypox spread is extremely unlikely.