Monkeypox on Cape Cod: Resources for Residents, Visitors, Businesses, and Practitioners
Monkeypox virus was discovered in 1958 among a colony of monkeys kept for research in Africa, is part of the same family of viruses as smallpox. Symptoms of the virus are similar to those of smallpox, but milder. Monkeypox is rarely fatal. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been tracking several cases of monkeypox around the world, due to an increase of cases in countries (including the United States) that don’t usually report it.
Monkeypox is considered rare and does not spread easily between people without close contact. The threat of monkeypox to the general U.S. population remains LOW. Nonetheless, it’s important for the public to be aware of symptoms and transmission, and remain vigilant in order to prevent further spread of the virus.
IMPORTANT PUBLIC HEALTH INFORMATION!
On Tuesday, June 28th, Provincetown officials held an online public forum to address concerns surrounding monkeypox. Three speakers from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MA DPH), Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences, included Kevin Cranston, Director and Assistant Commissioner of MA DPH, Dr. Larry Madoff, Medical Director, and Doctor Catherine Brown, State Epidemiologist. The forum was moderated by Senator Julian Cyr, with health officials from Provincetown and Barnstable County in attendance as well. The forum was open to the public.
The document linked below includes a list of questions that were discussed during the forum. As the summer season progresses, free of COVID-19 restrictions and promising fun and festivities for all, health officials want to ensure that the public is well informed about health risks related to monkeypox.
*The information presented here are based on our current knowledge and understanding of monkeypox. As research progresses, some of the information may be updated or changed. Further, this information pertains to non-healthcare settings only.
What You Should Know about Monkeypox
Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment is working closely with the 15 town health departments, local community leaders, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to monitor the spread of monkeypox and minimize its potential impact on our region.
Health agents are working with licensed businesses in their jurisdictions whose staff and/or guests could be exposed to monkeypox; sharing signs and symptoms, and recommending cleaning protocols that can help to prevent the spread of monkeypox. Barnstable County provides additional support in the form of communication resources and public health nursing consultation when needed, helping to keep the public abreast of risk factors and mitigation measures.
- Direct contact (touch, intimacy, sexual contact) with body fluids or fluid from pox vesicles.
- Indirect contact with fomites (items that have been contaminated with the virus such as clothing, bedding, or towels).
- Spread of large respiratory droplets following prolonged face-to-face contact.
- Casual conversation with an infected person.
- Walking by an infected person in the grocery store.
- Touching items like doorknobs.
- Flu-like illness (fever, chills, malaise, headache, muscle aches) after an incubation period of typically 6 to 16 days.
- Swollen Lymph nodes in the neck and/or armpit or other areas of the body.
- Appearance of a rash, often beginning on the face and then spreading to other parts of the body.
- Hand washing with soap and water or use of an alcohol-based hand rub should be performed by infected persons and household contacts after touching lesion material, clothing, linens, or environmental surfaces that may have had contact with lesion material.
- Dishes and other eating utensils should not be shared. It is not necessary for the infected person to use separate utensils if properly washed.
- Soiled dishes and eating utensils should be washed in a dishwasher or by hand with warm water and soap.
- Laundry (e.g., bedding, towels, clothing) may be washed in a standard washing machine with warm water and detergent; bleach may be added but is not necessary.
- Soiled laundry should not be shaken or otherwise handled in a manner that may disperse infectious particles.
- Care should be used when handling soiled laundry to avoid direct contact with contaminated material.
- Contaminated surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected. Standard household products may be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
Monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact including:
- Oral, anal, and vaginal sex or touching the genitals or anus of a person with monkeypox
- Hugging, massage, kissing, or talking closely
- Touching fabrics and objects during sex that were used by a person with monkeypox, such as bedding, towels and sex toys
We know the virus can be spread in fluid or pus from monkeypox sores, and are trying to better understand if virus could be present in semen, vaginal fluids or other body fluids.
If you or your partner have monkeypox or any symptoms that could be related to monkeypox, you should avoid sex or being intimate with anyone until all your sores have healed and you have a fresh layer of skin formed.
For more information, please visit:
People who may have symptoms of monkeypox should contact their healthcare provider. This includes anyone who:
- Traveled to central or west African countries, parts of Europe where monkeypox cases have been reported, or other areas with confirmed cases of monkeypox during the month before their symptoms began.
- Reports close or intimate contact with a confirmed monkeypox case or person with suspected monkeypox symptoms.
There are two vaccines licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that are available for preventing monkeypox infection – JYNNEOS (live, weakened vaccine administered in two injections under the skin—not muscle—four weeks apart) and ACAM2000 (live Vaccinia virus vaccine administered into the skin via multiple puncture technique). There is a limited supply of JYNNEOS and an ample supply of ACAM2000, although ACAM2000 vaccine should not be used in people who have certain health conditions, including a weakened immune system, skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis/eczema, or pregnancy.
According to the CDC, when properly administered before or after a recent exposure, vaccines can be an effective tool at protecting people against monkeypox. For more information regarding MPV vaccines, please visit: Considerations for Monkeypox Vaccination | Monkeypox | Poxvirus | CDC.
Presently, JYNNEOS vaccine is available to individuals who live or work in Massachusetts and meet the CDC’s eligibility criteria.
Administration of JYNNEOS will be by appointment only at four designated health care locations throughout the state of Massachusetts:
- Fenway Health (Boston): Appointments can be made by calling 617-927-6060 Monday through Friday between 9 AM and 5 PM.
- Massachusetts General Hospital Sexual Health Clinic (Boston): Appointments can be made by calling 617-726-2748 Monday through Friday between 9 AM and 5 PM.
- Boston Medical Center Infectious Disease Clinic (Boston): Appointments can be made by calling 617-414-4290 Monday through Friday between 9 AM and 5 PM.
- Outer Cape Cod Health Services (Provincetown): Appointments can be made by calling 508-905-2888 Monday through Friday between 8 AM and 5 PM.
Healthcare providers are responsible for performing risk and exposure assessment prior to referring a patient for vaccination. Once a provider confirms vaccine eligibility, patients can make their own appointment, noting their provider determined the patient eligible for JYNNEOS.
Please be aware that there is currently a limited supply of JYNNEOS, and vaccination is prioritized for individuals at highest risk of exposure to someone with monkeypox.
Helpful Online Resources
Monkeypox in the News
- Department Home
Programs & Services
- Emergency Planning
- Environmental Health
- Public Health
- Water and Wastewater