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City leaders say 'we have the tools to manage' monkeypox

Bill Rinehart
Cincinnati Interim Health Director Dr. Grant Mussman speaks Monday morning, with city and county health and elected leaders.

Cincinnati and Hamilton County health leaders say they're being proactive about fighting the spread of monkeypox. Two cases were confirmed locally last week. Interim City Health Commissioner Dr. Grant Mussman says the strategy is not based on mass vaccinations.

“The vaccine supply at this time is extremely limited,” he says.

Instead, awareness is the key word, according to UC Health infectious disease specialist Dr. Jennifer Forrester. “Currently what we’re seeing in the United States is that the population most affected right now is men who have sex with men," she says. "Certainly sexual contact is a close intimate contact, (but) it is not the only way that this virus is spread.”

Forrester says kissing is another way, along with rubbing open sores or some types of scabs.

Cincinnati Councilman Reggie Harris says while most cases in the United States have been found in men who have sex with men, it's important not to stigmatize the LGTBQ community, as the virus can infect anyone.

“We have the tools as a community to manage this," he says. "We look after each other, we recognize our body symptoms and then we respond appropriately. ... [W]e understand that this is absolutely something that we have control over, because we can make very clear short-term decisions about our body and our contact with people.”

Harris says stopping the spread is not unlike stopping chickenpox.

Vaccines are limited, and available only through a health care provider. Public health officials say anyone who's been exposed or suspects they've been exposed to monkeypox should isolate and contact their health care provider.

Both the Cincinnati Health Department and Hamilton County Public Health have webpages with more information about monkeypox.

As of July 29, Ohio has 23 monkeypox cases, Kentucky has eight, and Indiana has 49, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio in markets including Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio; and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.