JACKSON, Miss (WJTV) – As of Wednesday, August 17, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported there have been 17 monkeypox cases in Mississippi. Now, doctors are sharing more ways on how people can slow the spread of the disease.

Monkeypox is a disease that is strongly related to smallpox, although monkeypox is less severe. The disease was first only found in the west and central African nations, but it has now made its way to the United States.

Health officials said monkeypox is usually transmitted by a person coming into contact with another person, animal, or material with the disease. Researchers have also confirmed that monkeypox can spread especially through sexual contact.

On August 11, the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) announced expanded eligibility for the monkeypox vaccine in the state for patients in the following nine counties:

  • Hinds
  • Lee
  • Panola
  • Leflore
  • Lowndes
  • Lauderdale
  • Adams
  • Forrest
  • Harrison

With more than 13,000 monkeypox cases confirmed nationwide, doctors and researchers are concerned that the numbers could steadily increase in all states.

Currently, Mississippi has one of the lowest numbers reported in the United States. However, doctors said it’s important to get residents vaccinated before monkeypox spread further.

Dr. John Cross, Internal Medicine Physician and President of the Mississippi State Medical Association, said people should stay educated about the disease and the vaccine.

“Even though there are some who are at higher risk, I think the most important thing is that we educate the people so that they can stay safe,” said Cross. “We advise to take the most efficient measure within high risk behaviors in order to stop the spread but importantly get the vaccine.”

Cross said if individuals are experiencing any lesions or a rash, they should contact their physician and isolate themselves for proper testing and treatment. Other monkeypox symptoms include fever, chills, headaches, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes.

To determine if you’re eligible for the monkeypox vaccine, you can contact the Monkeypox Call Center at 1-877-978-6453.