ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Illinois health leaders fight to keep monkeypox under control. The Illinois Department of Public Health says the vaccine supply is limited and people who are high risk have first priority.
The U.S. is creeping up at 5,000 confirmed monkeypox cases, according to the CDC. Here in Illinois, 401 cases have been confirmed – 85% of them being in Chicago. However, one Stateline doctor believes it’s just a matter of time before the virus expands its reach.
Ajay Sethi, a professor of population health sciences at UW Madison says, “It’s inevitable that it will continue to spread unless it can be contained.”
The monkeypox outbreak is sparking concern among people as pictures online capture skin rashes caused by the virus. Sethi says the lesions comes after other symptoms.
“Initial symptoms are going to be flu-like symptoms, so fever, headaches, muscle aches, particularly like a backache, and you might have some swollen lymph nodes,” Sethi says.
Monkeypox is spread through intimate activity or direct contact with someone infected. Sethi explains while it mostly affects a particular community, we’re all at risk.
Sethi continues, “Most cases right now are among people who identify as gay, bisexual or trans men. Even though they are the population right now that represents most of the cases, everybody can be infected with this virus.”
Most cases are mild, but some can be severe enough to turn deadly. There’s hope though.
“There’s a vaccine available and if that vaccine is taken within days of that exposure or before, it can really help prevent any illness at all within the first four days,” says Sethi.
To Sethi, it’s something we should be concerned about, but not panic over. He adds it’s not as infectious as COVID, but there’s some similarities, based on how we respond to this new outbreak.
He says, “Well it’s a very different disease from COVID, but covid taught us the role that public health has in stopping an outbreak.”
Dr. Sethi urges everyone to become informed about the virus, adding reliable sources are needed in order to make good health decisions.