Now that monkeypox cases have emerged in Montana, RiverStone Health is reminding Yellowstone County that it has a limited amount of available vaccine.
Residents must call RiverStone at 406-247-3396 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org to determine if they're eligible for the vaccine, the public-health agency said in a Thursday news release.
On Aug. 5, Flathead County reported the state's first monkeypox case. Four days later, a second case was reported in Gallatin County.
No cases have been reported in Yellowstone County so far.
Montana has applied for its maximum federal allotment of 750 doses, according to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, which would treat 375 people since two doses are required four weeks apart. Only 40% of that is actually available now.
Monkeypox rarely is fatal, but the pimple-like rash it causes can be extremely painful and may last two to four weeks. The infected person needs to isolate until the scabs heal and new skin has grown over the lesions. The rash may result in permanent scarring.
In addition to the rash, some, but not all, people infected with monkeypox have other symptoms, such as fever, fatigue, muscle and backaches, swollen lymph nodes and chills. People with weakened immune systems, children under 8 years of age, people with a history of eczema, and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding may be more likely to get seriously ill or die.
The rash can look like pimples or blisters on the face, inside the mouth, on hands, feet, chest, genitals, anus or other body parts. Consult your healthcare provider about any rash of unknown cause.
The primary way that monkeypox has spread in the United States in this outbreak is by skin-to-skin contact with an infected person’s rash or body fluids. It also can be spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact or intimate contact such as kissing, cuddling or sex. Symptoms usually appear one to two weeks after infection.
Touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids is another way monkeypox spreads.
The CDC recommends vaccination for people who have been in close contact with people who have monkeypox and for people who are at high risk of exposure to monkeypox. Anyone can get this disease, but in this U.S. outbreak, most of the first cases have involved men who had sex with men.
For more information, go toriverstonehealth.org/monkeypox.