The Monkeypox virus has continued to creep across Michigan, and Kalamazoo County has been identified as the 20th county to have a reported case within its boundaries. The Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department (HCS) reports that the patient is currently isolating and does not pose a risk to the public. No additional cases have been identified at this time. 

As of Sunday, September 18th, 2022, 246 confirmed monkeypox (MPV) cases have been identified in Michigan. The HCS says the risk is low for the general public. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has boldly printed on its site; 

At this time, data suggest that gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men make up the majority of cases in the current monkeypox outbreak. However, anyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, who has been in close, personal contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk. Take steps to prevent getting monkeypox. If you have any symptoms of monkeypox, talk to a healthcare provider.”

Kalamazoo County Health Officer Jim Rutherford says, 

At this time, the risk of contracting monkeypox remains low in Kalamazoo County. HCS recommends, however, that Kalamazoo County Residents remain vigilant when it comes to preventing monkeypox. We will continue to work with all of our state and local community partners to keep residents informed of their risk, and the best methods of prevention.  

The illness typically lasts two to four weeks. The initial symptoms of MPV may include fever, headache, muscle or back aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. A rash then appears not long after or along with these symptoms and can look like pimples or blisters that can appear on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.  

So, now that we know what the symptoms are, just how is it spread? The HCS says that,  

The virus is spread from person-to-person by direct contact with the rash, sores, or scabs of a person with MPV. MPV can be transmitted during sex through skin-to-skin and other intimate sexual contact (such as kissing, cuddling, or massage). Less common routes of transmission include respiratory droplets from prolonged face-to-face contact or contact with contaminated materials such as clothing or bedding.

The bad news is that there are no treatments specifically for MPV infections. The good news is that monkeypox and smallpox viruses are genetically similar, which means that antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox may be used to prevent and treat MPV infections.   

The criteria for eligibility for receiving the vaccine, as listed on the Kalamazoo County Government website, are presented below: 

Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department has access to an extremely limited supply of monkeypox vaccine. To receive the monkeypox vaccine, you must be 18+ years old, live in Kalamazoo County, and:  

1. Have been exposed to monkeypox within the last 14 days (you had close physical contact with someone who was clinically diagnosed with monkeypox).

OR:

2. You are a gay, bisexual, or other man who has sex with men (and/or you are trans, gender nonconforming, or nonbinary) AND in the last 14 days you have participated in one of these activities in an area with known monkeypox transmission.  

  • Have given or received money or other goods or services in exchange for sex. 
  • OR have had intimate or sexual contact with other men in a social or sexual venue. 
  • Have had intimate or sexual contact with multiple or anonymous partners  
  • You are a gay, bisexual, or other man who has sex with men (and/or you are trans, gender nonconforming, or nonbinary) AND in the last 14 days you have participated in one of these activities in an area with known monkeypox transmission.
  • In the last 14 days, you had intimate or sexual contact with other individuals at an event and you were later informed that there were cases of monkeypox at the event.

Individuals who meet the above criteria are prioritized for a monkeypox vaccine based on available vaccine. As more doses become available, vaccine availability may expand further. We will share updates here as we have them.  

We can only give monkeypox vaccine to Kalamazoo County residents. If you live in a different county, please contact your local health department for more information. If you are a student attending college in Kalamazoo County who lives in on or off campus housing, you can get a monkeypox vaccine from us (even if your permanent address is outside of Kalamazoo County). 

Even though at this time the risk of contacting the virus is low, among the general public, the Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department alerts anyone who meets the above criteria to call them at 269-373-5198

Then/Now - Southwestern Junior High School in Battle Creek

If you were to drive by the school today, you'd think it could reopen any day. But upon further investigation inside, it's clear this building may have seen its last days. Built in 1927, the building has sat empty since about 2009. Multiple fires, vandalism, and improper care have now left it to only hold bright memories where dark hallways and burned books now remain.

More From 1049 The Edge