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Georgia health officials concerned about rapid spread of monkeypox across state

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The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now reporting 69 confirmed monkeypox cases in Georgia, up from 49 yesterday.

This comes as the federal Food and Drug Administration announced it’s cleared the way for transport of nearly 1 million doses of monkeypox vaccine from Europe to the United States.

Georgia health officials are concerned over the rapid spread of the illness but also point out that the disease is rarely fatal, and most patients recover within a few weeks.

Still, state epidemiologist Dr. Cherie Drenzek said they are keeping a close eye on the outbreak.

“Whenever we see an infectious disease spread rapidly around the globe, it’s always a concern,” Drenzek said. “We need to be prudent about preparation and response to any infectious disease outbreak.

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Drenzek and the Georgia Department of Public Health said most of the patients are men though the disease can be spread to anyone via close personal contact particularly through the signature rash and lesions.

“The direct physical contact with this rash is really what is the main risk factor here,” Drenzek said. “It’s really the rash itself.”

Health experts say that rash and lesions are often accompanied by fever, headache and back pain. They also point out that so far, there are no reported deaths from monkeypox anywhere in the U.S.

Drenzek added that monkeypox is related to smallpox, a disease eradicated from the planet decades ago, so, she said, they know how to fight it.

“All the tools that we used to respond to monkeypox are the same tools that we use to respond to any infectious disease outbreak including Covid,” Drenzek said. “All of those tried-and-true tools can be reassuring to everyone thinking about responding to an infectious disease outbreak. We know again, how to do it.”

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