After more than two years of worrying about COVID-19, fears of Monkeypox are gaining more attention, and recently Guilford County Health Director Dr. Iulia Vann told the Board of Commissioners that the Guilford County Division of Health has been preparing to handle cases and outbreaks should they occur in the county.
“Over the last few weeks, we have had numerous conversations with our state partners and with our own team to make sure we have everything we need with regard to knowledge about monkeypox in order to respond,” Vann told the commissioners.
She said the county’s health workers have been learning all about testing, vaccination and treatment of the disease.
“I feel like our team is very prepared right now,” Vann said.
The first case of the painful disease in North Carolina was found in June.
Vann told the board that a first case of monkeypox in Guilford County was found in July but that person wasn’t a resident of Guilford County.
According to state health officials, monkeypox is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, body fluids or respiratory secretions.
“Such contact often occurs during prolonged, face-to-face contact or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling or sex,” the NC Department of Health and Human Services stated in a recent press release.
Anyone can get monkeypox, the state’s health officials noted, but “many of the cases identified in the current outbreak have been in men who have sex with men.” Vann told the Board of Commissioners that the health department has also been sending information about the disease to local health outlets and organizations and she added, “We are ready to assist our providers.”
Vann said there’s been a “Phase 1 approach” statewide for vaccine distributions and that seven counties in North Carolina had been selected to serve as vaccination hubs and also serve as distribution points for surrounding counties.
Those seven are Buncombe, Durham, Forsyth, Mecklenburg, New Hanover, Pitt and Wake counties. Vann said that, since Forsyth County was the closest distribution point to Guilford County, she and her staff had worked to establish open lines of communication with health officials in Forsyth County.
She also said that all of the local health providers were sent data briefs to make sure that they are also knowledgeable about the symptoms and risk factors of the disease.
“I feel like we are in a very good spot right now,” the health director told the board. “I think we have learned a lot from COVID-19 and we are able to apply those same strategies in other situations.”
Vann added that Guilford County had been conducting a social media campaign to help the public become aware of the monkeypox threat.