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Monkeypox in Wisconsin: The symptoms, preventions and vaccine

The monkeypox outbreak is growing in the U.S. and vaccines remain in short supply.
Mario Tama
Getty Images
The monkeypox outbreak is growing in the U.S. and vaccines remain in short supply.

Monkeypox is the latest disease rocking our community. The outbreak has quickly spread around the world. While numbers remain low in Wisconsin, concerns are growing as more people become infected.

Dr. Mary Beth Graham, the medical director of infection prevention and control for Froedtert Hospital joined Lake Effect to share more about symptoms, prevention methods, and vaccination availability.

“The majority of symptoms that people have, are usually an onset of potential fever in a number of patients, could be some sore throat, could be swollen lymph nodes and within a few days, typically two to four days, the onset of skin lesions,” says Graham.

Graham clarifies that the skin lesions that come with monkeypox progress from small flat lesions to larger pustules that will scab over and eventually fall off. Once that skin falls off, a layer of new healthy skin will be underneath. Those diagnosed with monkeypox are infectious for two to four weeks.

“With monkeypox, you are infectious until those crusts are totally gone and there's healthy skin underneath, so a much longer time of being infectious,” says Graham.

These lesions are located where skin-to-skin contact happened with an infected person, whether that be around the mouth or genitals. However, Graham explains that you may not notice the lesions until further in the course of the disease.

She further explains that if you had a sexual partner who had monkeypox in the last 14 days or had close or intimate contact with individuals with monkeypox are at risk for the virus. Similarly, using clothing or bedsheets with someone with the disease or handling infected animals also place you at risk.

“The risk groups specifically put out by the state of Wisconsin are those individuals with a known sexual partner in the past 14 days who are diagnosed with monkeypox. The second is a person who attended any event or venue where there is a known monkeypox exposure. And the third is gay, bisexual, trans or any men who have sex with men who have had multiple sexual partners in the past 14 days,” says Graham.

Unlike COVID-19, the monkeypox virus is not new, and a vaccine already exists. It is a two-shot process, with a timeline of four weeks apart. However, you are not considered fully protected until about two weeks after your second shot.

“This won't be available at your local Walgreens, this won't be available at your local pharmacy. The vaccine is going to five hubs in the state of Wisconsin and then being sent to various specific sites from each one of those hubs, similar to what was done early with the COVID vaccine. Where it wasn't widely available because of the limited supply," says Graham.

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Joy is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
Cait Flynn was an assistant producer for Lake Effect 2022 to 2023.
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