Adams County Health Department prepares for monkeypox

QUINCY (WGEM) – The Adams County Health Department is preparing local health care providers to deal with monkeypox.

It comes a day after Illinois Governor JB Pritzker declared monkeypox a public health emergency.

CDC reports Illinois has 533 cases confirmed or suspected cases of monkeypox virus, the third highest in the country.

None have been reported in the tri-state area, but the Adams County Health Department said preparedness is their primary concern with any emerging disease like this.

“At the end of June, we hosted a lunch and learn with our vendors here in Adams County. So we had doctors and nurses from most of the facilities that would be most at risk,” said Adams County Health Department infectious disease supervisor Jon Campos. “The idea is to make sure our suppliers are aware and know what to do. So doing a training like that and sending information out to every doctor’s office has been our strategy for that.

Campos said the training explains the history of the virus, what they should look for, how staff should protect themselves and how they should collect and transport samples.

“The idea that monkeypox is here is real and so for the cases that we’ve had that have been…suspect cases, we’re transporting the samples ourselves to the state lab because we want results the day same,” he said.

Adams County Ambulance Chief John Simon said his paramedics were ready to transport someone with the virus.

“We take precautions with our EMTs and paramedics, that way they can protect themselves from all types of different communicable diseases that they may come across in the field,” Simon said. “It’s something we’ve been doing for…many years even before COVID.”

Simon said they have universal procedures they can follow.

“Wear work gloves…to protect yourself from contact with…bodily substances and things like that,” Simon said.

Campos said with the end of the school year, it’s important to start educating yourself about the virus now.

“There are a lot of challenges with schools, especially in child care, and we have been in contact with both of these systems. We now have a nurse focusing on each one of them,” Campos said. “That’s where we imagine we’re going to see boosts.”

Campos said if the county has a positive case, it will be able to get vaccines from a federal allocation. He said you wouldn’t go to the health department to get it, it would be sent to your primary care provider.

“There is a treatment and a vaccine and those things may be available while we wait for cases in your area. And then once something like that happens, we have the ability to order it,” Campos said.

He said vaccination and testing protocols with this virus are complex as there is no significant supply either.

“Now the vaccines are going to be more in a situation where we were the virus is endemic in the region,” Campos said. “We are seeing the spread and there is a known issue at this point. The main people who would be vaccinated are those who will be most at risk of exposure, as well as front-line health care personnel.

He said they needed to take extra steps like taking pictures of the suspicious rashes so they could send samples to be tested at the state lab.

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