Monkeypox is a global health emergency. Here’s how to protect yourself in North Carolina

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Mecklenburg County Public Health has confirmed the first case of monkeypox in the area, the county announced Monday. The news comes just days after the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced the state’s first case last week.

RELATED: Mecklenburg confirms first county case of monkeypox

Here’s how monkeypox spreads, and what experts say about the efficacy of masks in stopping the virus:

How does monkeypox spread?

Transmission of monkeypox virus happens when a person comes into contact with the virus from an animal, human or materials contaminated with the virus, the CDC says.

“In the current monkeypox outbreak, those with disease generally describe close, sustained physical contact with other people who are infected with the virus,” according to the CDC.

Prior studies, the CDC said, outbreaks show that spread of monkeypox virus by respiratory secretions appears uncommon.

According to the CDC, the virus can enter the body through:

  • Broken skin

  • Respiratory droplets

  • Mucous membranes, like the eyes, nose and mouth

  • A bite or scratch from an infected animal

  • Contact with bodily fluids

  • Contaminated clothing or linens

  • Respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex

  • Touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids

  • Pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta.

Symptoms of monkeypox include unexplained rashes, headache, fever, muscle and body aches and swollen lymph nodes, according to the WHO.

How to protect against monkeypox

Experts say masks are effective in preventing monkeypox infections.

Emily Landon, the executive director for infection prevention and control at the University of Chicago, COVID-19 safety practices “like masks and regular hand washing will be incredibly important tools to help protect us against monkeypox.”

Wearing masks helped prevent transmission on a flight containing someone who was infected with monkeypox from contracting the virus, said Andrea McCollum, who leads the poxvirus epidemiology unit at the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, told Georgia Public Broadcasting.

There have been some cases where monkeypox was transmitted from surfaces contaminated with respiratory droplets or fluid from lesions, which is why people should continue to wear masks, said Landon.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services also advises the public to use standard household cleaners and detergents to clean surfaces and linens.