CANTON, N.Y. (WWTI) — The virus that is spreading around the world is now in the North Country.
Monkeypox, a virus in the smallpox family, can cause painful rashes or bumps and flu-like symptoms. St. Lawrence County confirmed its first case on July 11 and New York State declared the virus an imminent threat in late July.
According to St. Lawrence County Director of Public Health Jolene Munger, local health officials are preparing preventative measures and responses.
“Monkeypox is a disease that has been around since the 1970s, but it is something that is new to us here in New York and especially St. Lawrence County,” Munger said. “We are making plans in the event that we do have more cases up here so we are prepared to help the community.”
The one case that was reported in St. Lawrence County had no identified exposures, which led to no identified risk to County residents.
Individuals who do test positive for the virus are asked to self-isolate, wear a mask in public and cover all sores.
The virus spread through close physical contact between two people. This can include skin-to-skin contact, contact with objects or fabrics or respiratory droplets.
Although the current Monkeypox outbreak has primarily affected the LGTBQ community, Munger emphasized that anyone can get the virus.
“Anyone can contract Monkeypox,” Munger stated. “It would be naive to think that we wouldn’t have more cases coming around the entire rest of the State, especially how it’s transmitting.”
But, unlike COVID-19, there is a vaccine to help prevent the spread of the virus. A small number of vaccine has been made available by the federal government.
New York State is set to allocate doses to specific areas based on the number of monkeypox cases. Specific vaccination opportunities are expected to be confirmed by St. Lawrence County Public Health in the coming weeks.
More information on Monkeypox can be found on the St. Lawrence County Public Health and New York State Department of Health websites.