Local health experts talk planning ahead for Monkeypox cases

Published: Jul. 18, 2022 at 8:57 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - With Monkeypox now in the Metro region, health experts are focusing their attention on prevention.

“I am worried about continued spread, we’re always worried about continued spread,” said Dr. Joseph Cherabie, Washington University Infectious Disease Physician at Barnes Jewish Hospital.

Cherabie says concerns over the spread of Monkeypox still remain relatively low for the St. Louis region, but with two probable cases in St. Louis City and St. Clair County, he says it is possible more people could be infected with the disease.

“It is important to acknowledge the fact that the majority of the cases have been among gay and bisexual men who have had sex with men, but that doesn’t make this a gay disease,” said Cherabie. “The disease does not care, the virus does not care what your sexual orientation is.”

As of now, he says county and city health departments are the only places in the region with access to the Monkeypox vaccine, and those vaccines are prioritized to people who have been close contacts with someone who has tested positive for Monkeypox.

“Once we get more access to vaccine, we would want to ideally be able to vaccinate all individuals who are at an increased likelihood of acquiring Monkeypox,” he said.

St. Louis County health officials tell News 4 they have also been proactively administering tests to local health agencies to track cases, but they have only tested around 10 to 15 people.

For local pharmacies, like St. Louis Hills Pharmacy, they do not expect to be supplying Monkeypox any time soon. Yet, staff preparing to handle customers’ questions or concerns regarding whether they may have been exposed.

“People are definitely going to come to us and say, ‘Hey I got this, what’s wrong with me,’ and so we’re going to need to be able to identify something very quickly if it is something like Monkeypox,” said pharmacist in charge, Dr. Tyler Taylor.

“If you are sexually active with new sexual partners, or if you are going to parties in venues in which individuals may be in close contact with each other, close skin to skin contact…then it is something that you should be aware of and it is something that you should possibly, when we get more increased access to vaccines, be vaccinated against,” said Cherabie.