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Three monkeypox cases found in Southern Indiana in recent weeks

Monkeypox virus under microscope.
Norton Healthcare will host its first monkeypox vaccine clinic for those at higher risk for infection.

Southern Indiana health officials have identified three cases of monkeypox since June.

Two of those cases have been in Floyd County. Clark County had one case several weeks ago. Local health officers say all three are no longer contagious. 

Health Officer Dr. Tom Harris said the two Floyd County cases, both of whom are adults, were identified July 23 and treated with Tecovirimat. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the medicine, known as TPOXX, as a smallpox treatment in 2018. 

“They're recovering nicely; we found the TPOXX to be very, very effective,” Harris said.

The Floyd County Health Department is vaccinating close contacts of the two patients. Harris said the department hosted a clinic for confirmed close contacts on Wednesday.

Floyd County received 10 vials of the vaccine. Under previous guidelines, that would mean 10 doses. The FDA announced Tuesday that it could be administered differently to allow for up to five doses per vial. The FDA also approved the vaccine for people under 18. 

Clark County Health Officer Dr. Eric Yazel said the patient who was previously diagnosed has since recovered. The county had already vaccinated around 50 people, as of last week.

But vaccine eligibility is still limited. It’s currently only available to people with HIV,  those who are at higher risk for severe illness, and close contacts of people who have been diagnosed with monkeypox.

Indiana has received just over 6,700 vials of monkeypox vaccine, to date. 

Monkeypox symptoms can include fever, chills, muscle aches and respiratory issues, either before or after a contagious rash.

“It looks a little bit like chickenpox, but the pox are actually a little bigger in most people,” Harris said. “We still assume you could be infectious until basically a new skin forms under the lesion.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported nearly 9,500 cases reported nationwide, as of Wednesday. There have been at least 77 cases in Indiana.

“The full impact is too early to call, but it's unlikely there'll be anywhere near the impact of COVID-19,” Harris said. 

The Indiana Department of Health has information on vaccine eligibility and how to find clinics here


Aprile Rickert is LPM's Southern Indiana reporter. Email Aprile at arickert@lpm.org.

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