FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Only seven out of North Carolina’s 100 counties have the monkeypox vaccines as case numbers in the state reach the low double-digits

On Thursday, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released its “2022 Monkeypox Outbreak Response Plan.”

“We have been monitoring the monkeypox outbreak and planning our response even before the first cases were reported in North Carolina,” said NCDHHS Secretary Kody H. Kinsley. “Releasing this plan helps all North Carolinians, including caregivers across our health system and individuals, to be on the same page about what they can do to control the spread of monkeypox.”

The federal government has distributed a total of 2,908 doses of the two-dose JYNNEOS vaccine to seven North Carolina health departments: Buncombe, Durham, Forsyth, Mecklenburg, New Hanover, Pitt and Wake. The seven counties are working with health departments around the state, as well as some clinics, to make sure that anyone who needs the vaccine can get it.

Anyone who has been exposed to monkeypox or any gay or bisexual men or transgender people who have had multiple sex partners or anonymous sex within the last 14 days qualify for the vaccine. To get it, qualified patients can call their local health department or one of the seven health departments with the initial supply. The vaccine must be given within 14 days of exposure.

The health departments where vaccine was initially distributed are:

Buncombe County Health Department — (828) 250-5300
Durham County Health Department — (919) 560-9217
Forysth County Health Department — (336) 703-3100
Mecklenburg County Health Department — (980) 314-9400
New Hanover County Health Department — (910) 798-6800
Pitt County Health Department — (252) 902-2300
Wake County Health Department — (919) 250-4462

Testing for monkeypox in North Carolina

State health leaders are emphasizing that monkeypox testing is “widely available and encouraged if you have symptoms of monkeypox.”

If you believe you have monkeypox, speak with your healthcare professional. Any monkeypox samples must be collected by a professional. The NC State Laboratory of Public Health, multiple commercial labs and some health systems are able to process tests for monkeypox. More labs are expected to be able to test soon.

“Health care providers are the key link in getting checked, getting tested and getting protected,” said State Health Director and NCDHHS Chief Medical Officer Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson. “We want to emphasize that testing is widely available, and anyone with symptoms should be tested.”

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

Here is the description of monkeypox issued by NCDHHS:

Monkeypox is a viral illness that typically begins with flu-like symptoms and swelling of the lymph nodes and progresses to a rash, like blisters or pimples, on the face and body. Most infections last two to four weeks, and most people with monkeypox get better on their own without treatment. Antiviral drugs may be recommended for those who are more likely to get severely ill, like patients with weakened immune systems. Monkeypox is rarely fatal, and no deaths have been reported related to this outbreak worldwide.

The virus does not spread easily between people, but transmission can occur through contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores, items that have been contaminated with fluids or sores (clothing, bedding, etc.) or through respiratory droplets following prolonged face-to-face contact.

How many cases are there in N.C. and the U.S.?

North Carolina reported its first case on June 23. On July 6, the state reported its third case, and by July 12, the state was up to 10 cases.

The Piedmont Triad’s first case was found in Davidson County on Tuesday.

DCHD officials say the person is currently isolating, and close contacts have been notified. To protect patient privacy, no additional information about the person will be shared.

“The Davidson County Health Department is poised and ready to respond to cases of monkeypox in our community,” said Davidson County Health Director Lillian Koontz. “With over two years of extensive, daily work in communicable disease case investigation and contact tracing, our team is well-practiced in all aspects of communicable disease work. Upon notification of the positive result, our skilled nurses were able to communicate isolation procedures to the sick individual and connect with their known close contacts to offer vaccinations.”

California and New York are at the top of the list with 161 and 159 cases respectively. In total, the U.S. is reporting just over 1,053 cases nationwide as of June 13.

No cases have yet been reported in Alabama, Alaska, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming.

Those numbers could continue to change as testing becomes more widely available.