Maryland health experts answered questions about monkeypox at a virtual town hall hosted by Prince George’s County.
Many people have questions about monkeypox, its local spread, and the vaccines that fight it.
Maryland health experts took on those questions Wednesday night at a virtual town hall hosted by Prince George’s County.
“Events like this are critical to our outbreak response in Maryland,” said Peter DeMartino, director of Infectious Disease Prevention and Health Services at the Maryland Department of Health.
He and others pointed out that the disease is common spread by prolonged skin-to-skin contactand overall most Marylanders are at very low risk of acquiring it.
When it comes to monkeypox testing in Prince George’s County, “We don’t have the resources, the capacity or the space to test people on a large scale,” said outgoing county health official Dr. Ernest Carter. “However, we are working with the state to possibly develop a larger testing operation.”
DeMartino said vaccines are currently prioritized for those who may have been recently exposed.
“We are focused on those people who have already experienced risk, and so we want to break the transmission that has already potentially occurred,” DeMartino said.
“We’re not at a place in Maryland where there’s enough vaccine to give people the pre-exposure shot,” he said.
“Right now, the county health department has a very limited supply, and therefore we have limited availability for appointments,” Carter said.
DeMartino also addressed questions about why the virus has been more prevalent among men in the gay and bisexual community.
“I think it has to do with our sexual and social networks. They are smaller, they are closer,” he said. “I know, as an identifying gay man, monkeypox isn’t taking me off the dance floor, but it’s making me rethink some of my outfits because I want to avoid that prolonged skin-to-skin contact.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Monkeypox is the nis considered a sexually transmitted diseasebut is often transmitted through close, sustained physical contact, which may include sexual contact.”
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