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State Sen. Eddie Melton urges Indiana health officials to be proactive in monkeypox response

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State Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, is urging the Indiana Department of Health to be proactive in its response to monkeypox as the viral disease continues spreading in the Hoosier State.

In a letter sent Wednesday to Dr. Kristina Box, the state health commissioner, Melton urges Box to share with Hoosiers more information about monkeypox, how it spreads and what steps can be taken to prevent infection.

"One of the first cases of monkeypox in our state was discovered in Gary," Melton said. "Our neighboring state, Illinois, has already declared a state of emergency, which will allow their department of health to begin coordinating efforts to prevent and treat the disease as efficiently as possible"

"I urge our state to begin taking proactive steps as well so we can get out ahead of this health issue before there’s a further spike in cases," he writes in the letter.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been 68 monkeypox cases in Indiana, compared to 602 cases in Illinois and 7,510 nationwide.

Earlier this week, Box issued a statewide standing order allowing any eligible health care provider to administer the monkeypox vaccine to individuals age 18 and up in accordance with CDC guidelines.

The state health agency also maintains a webpage with detailed information about the virus at: in.gov/health.

"I encourage residents to remain diligent and look out for news from our state and federal health officials as they continue to monitor the situation and the impact on our communities," Melton said.

Monkeypox is rarely fatal. The illness typically begins with fever, headache, chills, muscle aches and exhaustion about five to 21 days after exposure, according to the Indiana Department of Health.

Within one to three days (sometimes longer) after the appearance of fever, the patient develops a rash. The rash may start in the mouth or any part of the body before spreading. Some people may only develop the rash. The illness typically lasts for two to four weeks.

People are considered infectious until all scabs from the rash have fallen off and a fresh layer of skin has formed.

Person-to-person transmission is possible either through skin-to-skin contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores or contaminated items, such as bedding or clothing, or through exposure to respiratory droplets during prolonged face-to-face contact, the state health agency said.

"Hoosiers who believe they may have been exposed or who develop symptoms consistent with monkeypox are urged to contact a health care provider," Box said.

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"Hoosiers who believe they may have been exposed or who develop symptoms consistent with monkeypox are urged to contact a health care provider," said Dr. Kristina Box, state health commissioner.

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