Adams County Health Department prepares for monkeypox

WGEM News at Ten
Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 10:09 PM CDT
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QUINCY (WGEM) - The Adams County Health Department is preparing local health providers to deal with monkeypox.

This comes a day after Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker declared monkeypox a public health emergency.

The CDC reports Illinois has 533 cases of confirmed or presumptive monkeypox virus cases, the third most in the country.

None have been reported in the tri-state area but, the Adams County Health Department said preparedness is their number one concern when it comes to any emerging illness like this.

“At the end of June, we did a lunch and learn with our providers here in Adams County. So we had doctors and nurses of most of the facilities that would be most at risk for it,” Adams County Health Department Infectious Disease Supervisor Jon Campos said. “The idea is to make sure our providers are aware and they know what to do. So doing training like that and sending out information to all of the doctor’s offices has been our strategy for that.”

Campos said the training explains the history of the virus, what they should look for, how staff should protect themselves and how they should collect and transport specimens.

“The idea of monkeypox being here is real and so for the cases that we’ve had that have been... suspect cases, we’re actually transporting the samples to the state laboratory ourselves, because we want same-day results,” he said.

Adams County Ambulance Chief John Simon said his EMTs are ready to transport someone with the virus.

“We take precautions with our EMTs and paramedics, that way they can protect themselves from all types of different communicable diseases that they may encounter in the field,” Simon said. “That’s something that we’ve been doing for... many years even before COVID.”

Simon said they have universal procedures they can follow.

“Wear work gloves... to protect themselves from you know, touching any... body substances and things like that,” Simon said.

Campos said with the start of the school year close, it’s important to start educating yourself on the virus now.

“There’s a lot of challenges with schools, particularly in daycares, and we’ve been in touch with both of those systems. We’ve got a nurse now that’s kind of focusing on each of those,” Campos said. “That’s where we imagine we’re going to see boosts.”

Campos said if the county has a positive case, they will be able to get vaccines from a federal allocation. He said you wouldn’t go to the health department to get it, it would be sent to your primary care provider.

“There’s treatment and vaccine and those things can be available pending cases in your area. And then once something like that happens, we have the ability to order it,” Campos said.

He said the vaccination and testing protocols with this virus are complex because there’s not a significant supply of either.

“Now the vaccines is going to be more in a situation where we were the virus is endemic in the area,” Campos said. “We’re seeing the spread and there’s a known issue at that point. The main persons that would be vaccinated are those that are going to be at greatest risk to the exposure along with health care front-line staff.”

He said they have to take extra steps like taking pictures of suspected rashes so that they can send off specimens to get tested at the state lab.

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