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Health experts answer monkeypox questions at town hall

Compass Community Center hosts town hall
Monkeypox
Posted at 11:21 PM, Aug 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-03 09:56:13-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — People in Palm Beach County met with South Florida health experts Tuesday to have their questions about monkeypox answered.

This came during the Compass Community Center's monkeypox town hall with Dr. Sheetal Sharma, a physician with CAN Community Health, and Dr. Karen Thomas, the director of epidemiology and communicable diseases with the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County.

"There's so much misinformation out there, you're trying to find as much straight out of the horse's mouth," said Wayne Laporte, who attended the monkeypox town hall. "This is the same as we went through with COVID and you get basic answers at first and then as more and more information comes forward, you learn more, so me and my friend are trying to learn more about it."

The town hall welcomed people both in-person and virtually to ask questions as health experts shared their knowledge on the virus.

"Turnout was good," said Nicholas Coppola, co-chair with the Compass Community Center. "It's my understanding, in person, we had a good turn out. On social media, my understanding is, we had great numbers, so I'm really happy our community wants to educate themselves about what's going on."

The panel said monkeypox is a close contact virus that has a less than 1% mortality rate.

It produces contagious lesions on people's skin.

As of Tuesday, two people in Martin County and 30 in Palm Beach County are infected with monkeypox.

The virus is primarily among men who have sex with men, but it can infect anyone.

Health experts said elderly or immunocompromised people may face more severe symptoms.

They said a person with monkeypox is contagious until their scabs or lesions heal over, which on average lasts about two weeks.

"There is a lot that we don't know about this virus, and so we're trying to keep each other safe because we're all in this together," said Julie Seaver, executive director of the Compass Community Center. "We hope that we don't have to host another town hall and we'll actually host a vaccine clinic."

Thomas said as far as vaccines, the state is expected to allocate more within the next few weeks.

Anyone in need of a vaccine can call the Florida Department of Health.

Health experts also warn pregnant women who may have monkeypox to avoid breastfeeding and that the virus can also spread to pets.