CCHD outlines plans to address possible monkeypox outbreak

City-County Health Department CCHD Great Falls
Posted at 8:54 AM, Jul 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-27 11:07:24-04

GREAT FALLS — As the Monkeypox virus continues to make headlines, health departments across Montana - including the Cascade City-County Health Department in Great Falls - are working with the state to prepare to deal with the virus.

As of July 26, 2022, there are no cases in Montana.

"We start at the local level, at the health department, working with our state partners. So the state is looking at Monkeypox and working with the government,” Cascade City County Health Department Health Officer Abigail Hill said.

Hill said if and when a case is confirmed, the health department will get guidance from the state on exactly how to respond.

"There are just some precautions that people take to isolate if they're exposed or symptomatic. So we'll have to do some of those same kind of procedures that we will receive guidance from the state on that,” said Hill.

When asked if the virus could become widespread like COVID, she said she couldn’t speak to that but emphasized Monkeypox and COVID are different viruses.

“(Monkeypox) is just a different disease in how it’s spread. It’s rarely fatal, the symptoms are milder, but that mode of transmission is just kind of apples and oranges there. I can’t predict how many cases we get but you’re not going to see that same type pf spreading like we did with COVID-19,” Hill said.

She said a lot of lessons have been learned from COVID that could be applied to “a response to anything."

“Part of that’s just our partnerships we’ve made within Cascade County between health care providers and Alluvion, the hospitals, as far as how we respond. I think there’s more communication between providers,” Hill explained.

Symptoms are flu-like, including a fever, and a rash that typically appears 1-3 days after the fever. If you think you may be infected, contact your doctor.

There is a vaccine, but don't expect to be able to walk in to your doctor's office or health department and get it.

"'Even though the vaccine is available, why is it not something you can just go into a doctor's office or your local health department and get?' It's based off some illness like Smallpox that haven't really occurred. So we have a national stockpile of those vaccines so that's how it's distributed. It's just not something that is encountered on a daily basis so it's not cost effective to have that available at every clinic or hospital,” said Hill.

"As of Tuesday afternoon, the state had 150 doses of the Monkeypox vaccine to be distributed as needed if and when cases pop up here in Montana. It is a two-dose vaccine, meaning 75 people could be treated by those 150 doses. In Cascade County, Colter Anstaett MTN News.

Hill said the state could get more vaccine doses later in the year. Additionally, the CCHD has clinics coming up for people to receive other vaccines.