CHARLOTTE, N.C. — South Carolina's monkeypox cases now total 23, nearly one month after reporting the state's first two cases.
Dr. Linda Bell, the state epidemiologist with the Department of Health and Environmental Control, said most of the Palmetto State's cases appear to be tied to travel, with infected people bringing the virus into the state from elsewhere — but some of the cases have been linked to transmission within the state.
"This is direct contact with persons," Bell said. "[I] don't want to convey the impression that there is community-wide transmission."
Bell said the risk of the general population contracting monkeypox is still considered low. Most of the state's cases, much like the rest of the nationwide profile, are impacting men who have sex with men.
"While MPX [monkeypox] can be spread through intimate contact, it is not a sexually transmitted disease," Bell said. "Before engaging in sexual activity or intimate contact, people should ask their partner if they have been feeling well or have developed a new rash."
SCDHEC also shared its new name for the virus: MPX.
"We want to avoid any stigma associated with this disease," Bell said, noting that the World Health Organization is working to change the name globally. "Until the World Health Organization renames this disease, which they're working on, we have chosen to refer to it as MPX, pronounced 'EM-pox,' to remove any stigma associated with the name of the disease, or groups that it's attached with."
South Carolina has already received 1,500 monkeypox vaccine doses from the federal government, which it distributed to select clinics statewide. SCDHEC expects additional doses soon and has open appointments for vaccination through 14 clinics around the state.
The state has criteria for monkeypox vaccination:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Identify as a gay or bisexual man or a transgender, gender-fluid, or gender-non-conforming individual who has sex with men
- Have had multiple male sexual contacts within the last two weeks
SCDHEC will not check the residency of a person seeking vaccination.
"If there's someone in South Carolina who may be a close contact to a case, we will do all we can to make sure that they're vaccinated promptly to prevent spread," Bell said. "This is a public health effort to prevent spread wherever it occurs."
People seeking monkeypox vaccination in South Carolina can call the state's CareLine: 1-855-472-3432.