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Health experts and LGBTQ+ activists raise awareness for monkeypox

Health experts and LGBTQ+ activists are vigorously working to warn people at high risk without creating and contributing to a stigma.

HARTFORD, Conn. — As of Friday, there are 16 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the state of Connecticut. 

"I think it's important to know that this is a public health disease that people need to know about across the board," Dr.Ulysses Wu, Cheif Epidemiologist with Hartford Healthcare.

"It seems to be emanating out of New York City to some degree," explained Gov. Ned Lemont. " I've seen that movie before. We have increasing infections here in Connecticut." 

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Currently, cases are predominantly spreading among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. But, infectious disease specialists explained anyone is susceptible to the virus.  

"You can spread through close physical contact, and we're talking continuous contact," explained Dr. Wu. "Sexually is the most common, but I don't want to label it as an STD." 

According to the CDC, the virus can spread from person to person through:

  • Direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids
  • Respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex
  • Touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids
  • Pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta

Health experts and LGBTQ+ activists are vigorously working to warn people at high risk without creating and contributing to a stigma.

"It doesn't mean the entire community is at risk," explained Linda Estabrook MPH, Executive Director,  Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective. "It means that a population is more at risk at the moment because that's what the transmission is happening."

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Estabrook said the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective receive dozens of calls a day about monkeypox. To help answer questions from the community, HGLH has information readily available on its site.

"Because it is an evolving situation, and we wanted a place that was easy for people to access and easy to understand information," explained Estabrook. 

Officials said there's no need to panic, but taking precautions to protect yourself is important. 

RELATED: Millions in COVID funds yet to be distributed to Connecticut workers

"We've got something like 1,700 vaccines now and more on the way. If you show any symptoms if you got that rash go see your primary care doc," said Gov. Lamont.  

Symptoms of monkeypox can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Aches 
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • Rashes that can look like pimples or blisters that appear inside the mouth or on other parts of the body, including the hands, feet, chest, etc.

Raquel Harrington is the race and culture reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at rharrington@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram


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