Monkeypox likely to make its way to Jacksonville, local doctor says

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As the number of monkeypox cases rises in the country, one health expert from UF Health Jacksonville says more are on the way.

There are currently more than 1,800 cases across the U.S., according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As of Monday, July 18, Florida had around 154 monkeypox infections -- Georgia had 93, according to the CDC. According to the Florida Department of Health, in the last 30 days, there were confirmed cases in Broward, Collier, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Pinellas and Seminole counties. Broward had the most -- 24 confirmed cases.

Doctors said the number of cases across the country is expected to grow as more data emerges.

News4JAX spoke with Chad Neilsen, the Director of Accreditation & Infection Prevention at UF Health Jacksonville, who said he believes it’s a matter of time before the virus makes its way into Northeast Florida. As of Monday, no cases had been reported in our area.

“We have received potential cause for testing from some of our providers or patients that have come in with suspicious looking symptoms, or lesions if you will, in our emergency department, but so far we’ve had alternative diagnosis for those patients,” Neilsen said.

More confusion is mounting to the virus because it appears like a sexually transmitted infection.

“Lesions in particular around the groin or genital region,” Neilsen said.

Related: US officials: States getting more monkeypox vaccine soon | WHO panel: Monkeypox not a global emergency ‘at this stage’

People with monkeypox may experience fever, body aches, chills and fatigue. Many in the outbreak have developed zit-like bumps on many parts of the body.

No one has died, and the illness has been relatively mild in many men. But for some, the lesions can be “exquisitely painful” and there is a risk of scarring, said Dr. Mary Foote, medical director of the New York City health department’s Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response.

The disease is endemic in parts of Africa, where people have become infected through bites from rodents or small animals. The monkeypox virus does not usually spread easily among people.

Cases began emerging in Europe and the United States in May. Many of the individuals who contracted the virus had traveled internationally.

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