Mississippi’s first monkeypox case is a person who became infected while traveling. State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers says the individual “acquired the infection outside of Mississippi.” Even though COVID and West Nile virus cases are identified by county, the monkeypox case isn’t. One reason: unlike COVID, monkeypox is not easily transmissible. And with only one case so far, the Health Department has privacy concerns. Also, it’s not like West Nile where the public needs to know if infected mosquitoes are in their county.
Monkeypox is spread mainly by skin-to-skin contact. Byers says there’s no indication so far that the infected person has transmitted the disease to anyone else in Mississippi but testing continues. And even though many of the monkeypox cases confirmed in other parts of the country have been among gay men, Byers says it’s “a public health concern that we all need to be aware of.” He says anyone who’s been in direct contact with an infected person can get monkeypox regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.
The Health Department says the state’s limited supply of monkeypox vaccine is being given to people who were exposed to the infected person.