The Mecklenburg County Health Department reported the first known pediatric case of monkeypox in the state of North Carolina on Tuesday.
That means someone under the age of 18 has tested positive for the virus.
In the past week, North Carolina added an average of 11 new cases of monkey pox every day.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said the state has 261 cases of monkeypox as of Tuesday. On August 9, the state reported 114 cases. On July 25, North Carolina reported 34 cases.
As of Tuesday, nearly all cases in North Carolina are among men, except for the only case in someone under 18.
Black men make up nearly 70% of cases in the state, but only 26% of those vaccinated in North Carolina. White men make up about 25% of all cases, but 63% of vaccinations.
Health leaders said they are tackling inequality through targeted vaccination events.
Over the weekend at Charlotte Pride, some 2,000 people were vaccinated against monkey pox.
In North Carolina, four in ten infections are among people living in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area. The virus mainly spreads among gay and bisexual men and transgenders.
“The reason we’re doing this is because we don’t have enough vaccine,” said UNC Health Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. David Wohl. “That’s what worries me.
“With another breakout, we are behind the eight ball. We didn’t get our act together at the federal level. We didn’t get the vaccine in the country like we should have. Others were ahead of us and ordered the vaccine.”
Earlier this month, the US Food and Drug Administration announced it would extend its authorization to allow another way to get a dose of the monkeypox vaccine due to high demand in some parts of the country. Instead of a regular injection, healthcare providers can now use an intradermal injection between the layers of skin. The new way of vaccine injection is one fifth of the original dose.
Wohl said there are three things people can do to protect themselves:
- Be attentive and check your partners for lesions
- Encourage high-risk people to get a vaccine
- Check for symptoms
“We see a lot of lesions in the genital area or the rectal area, sometimes on the face or other places,” Wohl said.
Wohl said people who attend Pride or other social settings, such as bars and concerts, don’t have to worry about catching monkeypox. However, he encourages people to watch for symptoms — such as bumps and blisters — and to be attentive to sexual partners.
“You have to know your partner,” Wohl said. “If you don’t know them, know them. That means talking.
“New lesions? Are there any new bumps or sores I should know about? If you’re going to be intimate with someone, maybe take a look before you jump and just watch each other. I don’t think that’s off the table.”
The first symptoms may be fever or pain when swallowing. It can take one to three weeks for symptoms to appear.
“Condoms don’t protect you from monkey pox, as a lesion can be outside the area a condom covers,” Wohl said. “You have to think about it carefully and we don’t know how much shedding occurs before a lesion appears.”
As of Tuesday, Wake County reports 24 cases, Durham County has 11 cases and Cumberland County has nine cases.
The numbers are lower than the 112 cases reported in Mecklenburg province, which is still the center of the outbreak.