WATCH: Dr. Rai discusses Monkeypox, COVID-19 trends
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - “It’s a pretty significant outbreak. We’ve never seen anything like this with monkeypox in the world before,” says Dr. Ashok Rai, President and CEO of Prevea Health.
Dr. Rai joined us on Action 2 News This Morning to talk about the virus, how it spreads and how it can be treated. He also gave us an update on COVID-19 trends in Wisconsin.
SYMPTOMS OF MONKEYPOX
“Monkeypox is another contagious virus we have to worry about but we really can’t create a parallel with COVID-19. It’s transmitted differently, it causes a different kind of disease. To transmit monkeypox, it takes a lot of physical contact or really close contact. Even though you can get it through respiratory particles, it means spending a lot of time face to face with somebody. Think about intense physical contact, think about intimacy, think about kissing, think about people being together. Even somebody who is actively infected with monkeypox, they usually have this pustules over their body. As those pustules open up, they can infect bedding and somebody who spends a lot of time in that bedding can get infected as well.
It’s important to know you’re looking for somebody who has a fever, possibly inflamed lymphnodes, and then has that really typical rash. People have Googled monkeypox and they’ve seen these pictures of people with a rash all over their face and pustules, but it’s important to remember what we’re seeing now around the world, sometimes it’s only a single pustule in an area that you can’t always see. So it’s important that when somebody is positive that they’re tested and that we do really good contact tracing and education to make sure we know who they could have infected, household contacts, intimate partners, so we can really test those people and treat them.
It’s a pretty significant outbreak. We’ve never seen anything like this with monkeypox in the world before. That significant outbreak is controllable at this point. I think we learned even in COVID-19 as a virus continues to infect people it replicates, it grows. There’s a chance for that replication to create a mutation. Controlling the outbreak brings down the chances of that happening. And we also want to protect people. So the education, the testing and tracing, the isolation resources we need in public health are all important to controlling it.”
WHO DECLARES GLOBAL HEALTH EMERGENCY
“It brings that awareness out. It brings it to the global level. There’s countries that don’t have the resources the United States does, so it brings resources to those countries. There is a vaccination for monkeypox and other related viruses. There’s even an oral treatment. It’s not exactly considered in large supply, but this allows for the ramping up of production and distribution of it. It’s brings an education that ‘Hey, I’ve been exposed to monkeypox. What do I do? How do I get the vaccine if I’ve been exposed?’ Those are all things that happen when an emergency is declared.”
“Probably the most important thing that we’re doing here is that once we know that somebody is positive that contact tracing and making sure that those who have had true exposure, that true skin-to-skin contact, those household contacts are being offered the vaccination. The vaccination may not completely prevent you from getting monkeypox. It could make it milder. There is a chance it could prevent you from fully contracting it. So it’s really important early on that we know about those close contacts. There is an oral medication for those who have the disease. It’s limited in who we can give it to based on other medications and illness they may have, but there is treatment.”
“So we now have a new variant BA.5 since the last time I was on. It’s the most dominant variant we’re seeing in the United States. We’re seeing a pretty significant increase in cases here in the state of Wisconsin. It’s important when I say that that we only know what we know. There’s a lot of home testing, a lot of positivity there. We’re seeing increases in hospitalizations but not at the rate we saw before. When I looked at our own hospitals where we work at across the state, all but one of the patients was not up to date on their COVID vaccines. Although the COVID vaccine may not prevent you from getting BA.5 or a previous infection may not prevent you from getting it, it does prevent serious disease, the most important thing. If you’re eligible to get the boosters and you’re over the age of 50, you have some sort of chronic medical condition: diabetes, heart issues, lung issues, it’s super important to get that booster now before we get into really increased cases as Wisconsinites head back inside.”
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