If you’re like us, you probably feel at this point that you have a handle on the COVID-19 precautions you need to take when traveling. But recently, we’ve been hearing a lot about a new virus that is spreading in the U.S. – Monkeypox.
Numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control now indicate that Florida is the state with the 4th most cases of Monkeypox – behind New York. California, and Illinois. So, we started wondering whether we should be taking special precautions against Monkeypox when traveling in Florida. Is this something else we need to worry about?
According to the Florida Department of Health, there were 374 cases of Monkeypox reported in the state through July 28, 2022. The vast majority of those cases were in south Florida – in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Among the counties in the Orlando area, there were 22 cases in Orange County, 1 in Osceola, 2 in Seminole, and 2 in Lake.
Those numbers may seem small, but they are increasing, as is the demand for the Monkeypox vaccine. Kent Donahue, public information officer with the Florida Department of Health-Orange County, said that Orange County currently has no Monkeypox vaccine appointments available. The department is receiving doses of the vaccine, but everything they have received so far has been spoken for.
“We are a hub for distribution of the vaccine in the region,” he said. “We receive it as it becomes available from the Strategic National Stockpile.” Priority for vaccine distribution is being given to areas where the highest number of cases are being reported, Donahue said.
So, what specific precautions should be taken if you are planning to travel to Florida? Public health officials declined to provide specific information for travelers in two phone interviews with DFB, citing a lack of traveler-specific information. Instead, they directed us to the Centers for Disease Control’s prevention information.
The CDC advises the following:
- Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
- Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.
- Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
- Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used.
- Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox.
- Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after you use the bathroom.
Should you wear a mask or social distance when traveling in Florida? While you may want to still do that when traveling to prevent COVID-19 transmission, the possibility of the Monkeypox virus spreading in respiratory droplets is still being studied. The CDC does advise the wearing of a mask if you are assisting a Monkeypox patient.
Another important thing to do, public health officials said, is to keep the risk in perspective. Monkeypox is still rare, and person-to-person transmission is difficult – though that appears to be changing some with this recent outbreak. And while there is no “cure” for Monkeypox, the illness tends to go away on its own without treatment, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
One specific question the DFB Team had was about the possibility of transmission through public toilets. It’s a question we were unable to get an answer to in our interviews. As officials said, not enough is known. We did note that right now, the Centers for Disease Control’s prevention tips talk about transmission through “soft” items such as bedding and clothing, rather than hard items.
Like the early days of COVID-19, specifics about transmission and prevention are still being studied. Travelers should avoid contact with anyone with an unexplained skin rash or lesions, as well as their clothing and bedding. And, as we have all learned over the past couple of years, extra frequent hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer is usually a great idea.
If you suspect that you or someone you are traveling with may have been exposed to Monkeypox, you should contact a medical professional immediately. As we noted above, local health officials are gaining access to a limited number of vaccines, and they are being given to those who may have been exposed and are at greater risk of contracting this virus.
Here are some additional resources for you:
- For more information about Monkeypox vaccine availability in central Florida, call 407-723-5004.
- CDC Monkeypox Information
- The Easy Way to Handle Getting Sick in Disney World
The DFB Team will continue to monitor the Monkeypox numbers in Central Florida, as well as new information coming out from reliable sources regarding transmission and prevention of this viral infection.
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Are you concerned about Monkeypox? Tell us in the comments.
The post What Experts Are Saying About Monkeypox and Disney World first appeared on the disney food blog.