ATLANTA — A woman in Georgia has contracted monkeypox, making her the first female to be diagnosed with the virus in the state, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.
The department said she reported "having close personal contact with a man previously diagnosed with monkeypox."
Worldwide, there are about a dozen cases of the virus in women; health officials said that people could be infected with it regardless of age or gender.
Health officials reported that 96% of the cases are among gay or bisexual men who have sex with men, but the department still doesn't know why this group is being heavily targeted.
"When it comes to men and women and monkeypox it's going to be the same as far as how they are going to recover," 11Alive's medical expert Dr. Sujatha Reddy said. "I think it's important to let people know that this is not typically a deadly virus, 99% of people will recover with no issues whatsoever."
She added the virus impacts children similarly but noted that younger patients are more vulnerable as their immune systems can be more delicate.
"I think I would watch kids more closely," she said, noting there isn't a lot of information about how the virus impacts children in the United States.
However, Dr. Reddy said the circumstances around the infection can be different for pregnant women. She explained that for those who are expecting, their immune system is somewhat suppressed.
"Monkeypox and pregnancy can have a real impact," Dr. Reddy said. "There was a small study that was done that showed that it can actually affect unborn children. There were some miscarriages and some stillborn in pregnant women who contracted monkeypox."
Earlier this week, there were questions about if monkeypox was considered a sexually transmitted disease, so the Verify team went to the experts to find out.
The answer? No, not in the "classic sense," because it’s not spread through semen, vaginally or only via sex, Robert L. Murphy, M.D., said in a news release published by Northwestern University.
It is spread by high levels of skin-to-skin contact, which often does happen during sex. The virus enters the body through broken skin (even if not visible), the respiratory tract, or the mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth).
Other viruses that can spread during sex, but are not considered sexually transmitted infections (or STIs, formerly known as STDs), are:
- The common cold
- Pink eye
- The flu
At last check, Georgia had the fifth highest number of cases in the country. And with cases rising in the Georiga, officials are pushing to get people vaccinated, but it's in short supply as more than 100 people have been diagnosed.
Several clinics will open around metro Atlanta this weekend to get ahead of the rapid number of cases.