TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) – Tippecanoe County reported its first cases of monkeypox Thursday.
According to Tippecanoe County Health Director Dr. Gregory Loomis, he’s not surprised and had been expecting it for a while.
Dr Loomis said monkeypox is a very different situation from COVID-19. Monkeypox is a known disease that has been around for decades.
Dr Loomis adds that no deaths have been recorded in the United States so far and that the three cases in Tippecanoe County are extremely mild.
“We are aware of this [disease] since, well, 1957,” Loomis said. “We have vaccines for it, we have tests to identify it and we have antivirals. So we’re already, what, a year ahead of the game?”
Monkeypox is not very contagious through air droplets. To contract it without skin-to-skin contact, one would need to be exposed for about three hours, according to Loomis.
The main symptom of monkeypox is the atypical lesions that appear on the skin.
“But in this particular case, it’s not a respiratory virus,” Loomis said. “It’s a virus that is caught by skin-to-skin contact or exposure to the lesions themselves, or exposure to the sheets or clothing of anyone with a documented infection.”
The vaccines are rolling out in Indiana and are in Phase 1 of 3, being currently available to those most at risk. Although those most at risk of contracting the virus are homosexuals, anyone can test positive.
However, Dr Loomis said this virus can be contained and the general public should not be concerned.
“Yeah, I don’t think the general population needs to worry about that,” Loomis said. “And I might add if I may, I don’t think students going back to school have anything to worry about. I think it will be something that will eventually be contained. [But] we will see more cases. We knew we would.”
It is recommended that if someone has the typical lesions of monkeypox, call a primary care physician or visit the health department for testing and advice.
Dr. Loomis emphasized that monkeypox would not become a pandemic like COVID-19, but he said it is something that can create pandemic-like panic and is something he would like to avoid.