Health experts answer monkeypox questions at town hall

This 1997 image provided by CDC, shows the right arm and torso of a patient, whose skin...
This 1997 image provided by CDC, shows the right arm and torso of a patient, whose skin displayed a number of lesions due to what had been an active case of monkeypox. As more cases of monkeypox are detected in Europe and North America in 2022, some scientists who have monitored numerous outbreaks in Africa say they are baffled by the unusual disease's spread in developed countries. (CDC via AP)(AP)
Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 11:25 PM EDT
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People in Palm Beach County met with local health experts Tuesday to have their questions about monkeypox answered.

This during the Compass Community Center’s monkeypox town hall with Dr. Sheetal Sharma, a physician with CAN Community Health and Dr. Karen Thomas, the Director of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases with the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County.

"There's so much misinformation out there, you're trying to find as much straight out of the horse's mouth," said Wayne Laporte, who attended the monkeypox town hall. "This is the same as we went through with COVID and you get basic answers at first and then it's more and more information comes forward you learn more, so me and my friend are trying to learn more about it."

The town hall welcomed people both in person and virtually to ask questions as health experts shared their knowledge on the virus.

"Turnout was good, it's my understanding, in person we had a good turn out - on social media my understanding is we had great numbers, so I'm really happy our community wants to educate themselves about what's going on," Nicholas Coppola the co-chair with Compass Community Center.

The panel said monkeypox is a close contact virus that has a less than 1% mortality rate.

It produces contagious lesions on people's skin.

As of Tuesday, August 2, two people in Martin County and 30 in Palm Beach County are infected with monkeypox.

Right now the virus is primarily among men who have sex with men but it can infect anyone.

Health experts say elderly or immunocompromised people may face more severe symptoms.

They say a person with monkeypox is contagious until their scabs or lesions heal over, which on average lasts about two weeks.

"There is a lot that we don't know about this virus and so we're trying to keep each other safe because we're all in this together," said Julie Seaver the Executive Director, Compass Community Center. "We hope that we don't have to host another town hall and we'll actually host a vaccine clinic.

As far as vaccines, Dr. Thomas says the state is expected to allocate more within the next few weeks.

And you can call the Florida Department of Health if you feel you're in need of a vaccine.

Health experts also warn pregnant women who may have monkeypox to avoid breastfeeding, and that the virus can also spread to pets.

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