JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 45 cases of monkeypox have been reported in Mississippi as of Thursday, September 8.

Monkeypox symptoms consists of a rash, fever, headache, chills, swollen lymph nodes, muscle aches and respiratory problems.

Dr. Geri Weiland, who is a pediatrician and president of the Mississippi State Medical Association (MSMA), said monkeypox isn’t as contagious as COVID-19.

“You really have to be close to someone or they would honestly have to cough on you,” said Weiland. “This disease is mostly by contact rather than just being in the same space like most other diseases.”

Weiland said there are two vaccines that have been approved in order to treat monkeypox. The vaccine is used to treat smallpox, but it be just as effective for monkeypox.

“Even though it is effective for those more at risk, there will still be ongoing study being done to see if this is the most effective or if there need to be another vaccine,” said Weiland.

While anyone exposed to a person with monkeypox is at risk for infection, health officials said most cases in Mississippi are among gay, bisexual men and others who identify as men who have sex with men.

On Friday, the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) announced expanded eligibility for those recommended to receive the monkeypox vaccine.

Individuals 18 years or older may be eligible for vaccination if they:

  • Have been notified or are aware of close, intimate or sexual contact with someone diagnosed with monkeypox
  • Identify as gay, bisexual, or as other men who have sex with men, or are transgender individuals
  • Have multiple or anonymous sex partners
  • Attend events or venues where monkeypox may be transmitted (for example, by skin-to-skin contact or sex on-site)
  • Are living with HIV
  • Have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the prior 90 days

Vaccination appointments are available to those who meet the above criteria.