With over 600 confirmed monkeypox cases in Georgia, state health officials are advising residents to remain diligent to avoid the virus.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Georgia Department of Health had confirmed 625 cases of monkeypox in the state, according to a department press release.
"Testing and vaccination are available in health districts throughout the state; however, vaccine supplies from the federal government remain limited," the release said.
The department said the monkeypox virus can spread between people through direct contact with the infected rash, scabs, or body fluids, by air exchanged during prolonged face-to-face contact, or during intimate contact between people, including cuddling and sex.
The vast majority of those with monkeypox in the current outbreak — upwards of 90% — reported close, sustained physical contact with people infected with the virus.
"While many of those affected in the current global outbreaks are gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men, anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox can get the illness," the department said.
The department said an individual can get monkeypox from touching items, like clothing or linens, that previously had contact with the infectious rash or body fluids, but noted it "has not been identified to be a common mode of transmission in this outbreak or for monkeypox in general."
Exposure to the virus is key in determining risk, and someone is more likely to get monkeypox from sharing bedding or towels with someone who is infected than touching money or a door handle after someone with the virus has done so, according to the department.
"It is important to remember that monkeypox is not transmitted like COVID and typically takes skin-to-skin or other close contact to transmit," the department said. "Unlike COVID or measles, this means far lower risk to persons that may be in a room with someone with monkeypox, but who do not have contact with the infected individual."
Unlike with COVID-19, which spreads much more easily than monkeypox, places where large groups of people congregate are not considered high-risk areas for contracting monkeypox.
The department offered a few actions people can take to lessen the risk of contracting monkeypox:
- Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
- Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.
- Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
- Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used.
- Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox.
- Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after you use the bathroom.