MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – There are now 16 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Alabama, according to newly released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This comes two weeks after the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) reported the first two cases of the virus out of Mobile and Jefferson counties.
First discovered in 1958 in monkeys, health officials say the rare disease is usually found in Central and West Africa.
As of Saturday, the CDC reports more than 5,000 cases of monkeypox across the country. Only three states, Montana, Wyoming and Vermont, reported no active cases.
Health officials say the virus mostly spreads through skin-to-skin contact; however, it can also transmit when touching linens used by someone with the infection. Most cases reported have been in men who have sex with men, according to the Associated Press, but health leaders warn anyone can catch the virus. The time between exposure to the disease and when the illness begins is about 7-14 days but can be as long as 21 days, according to ADPH.
Alabama health leaders say these steps help to prevent the spread of monkeypox:
- Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with a person who has monkeypox.
- Do not handle or touch the bedding, clothing, or towels of a person who has monkeypox.
- Have persons with monkeypox isolate away from others.
- Wash hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after contact with ill people who have monkeypox.
- Avoid contact with animals that could have the virus (such as animals that are sick or that have been found dead).
The U.S. on Wednesday signed off on nearly 800,000 additional doses of the monkeypox vaccine after previously sending more than 300,00 doses to state and local health departments. Alabama received its first shipment of monkeypox vaccines last week.
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