(WGHP) — North Carolina is one of 34 states where monkeypox has popped up. The state has three cases as of July 6, and state leaders and healthcare providers are working to make sure they’re ready to fight back.
On Friday, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will be meeting with healthcare leaders to discuss the state’s response to monkeypox, according to a Novant Health spokesperson. The state intends to distribute vaccines to healthcare systems, similar to how the state rolled out COVID-19 vaccines.
North Carolina reported its first case on June 23. The third in the state was reported Wednesday in Wake County.
“Monkeypox cases continue to rise across the country, so it is not a surprise that it has now been detected in Wake County,” said Wake County Associate Physician Director and Epidemiology Program Director Nicole Mushonga. “Fortunately, unlike COVID-19, there’s already a vaccine approved to help curtail this virus in the early stages of this outbreak. We encourage all residents to know the symptoms and be aware of the risk factors for monkeypox.”
Monkeypox is described as a “rare, but potentially serious, viral illness that typically involves flu-like symptoms.” Symptoms can include fever, headache, muscle and back aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a rash that looks like pimples or blisters. Most infections last two to four weeks.
The CDC says anyone with “a rash that looks like monkeypox” should speak with their healthcare provider, and those providers can order tests.
While North Carolina's 3 cases place it above the 29 states with two or fewer cases, some states are seeing numbers in the triple digits.
New York has reported 122 cases and California is not far behind with 117. Rounding out the top 10 are Florida with 64, Illinois with 62, Massachusets with 29, Texas with 23, Pennsylvania with 17, Virginia with 15, Georgia with 14 and Maryland with 9. In total, the U.S. is reporting just over 600 cases nationwide.
No cases have yet been reported in Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Those numbers could continue to change as testing becomes more widely available.
Health and Human Services announced on June 22 that five commercial laboratory companies would soon begin offering monkeypox testing.
Labcorb, the commercial laboratory network based in Burlington, North Carolina, started processing tests this week. Labcorp will be using CDC tests for orthopoxvirus, the genus of viruses that includes pathogens like smallpox, cowpox and monkeypox.
Two vaccines to combat monkey are available: Jynneos and ACAM2000. Jynneos tends to be preferred because it is both newer and has fewer side effects.
As of July 1, vaccines were only available in North Carolina for those who have been exposed to monkeypox and are at high-risk, according to the News & Observer. UNC Health infectious disease expert David Wohl to the paper that the vaccine is only available from the state is not routinely stocked by hospitals.