Guam’s first case of monkeypox was confirmed on September 12. Guam’s Department of Public Health and Social Services was alerted to the case by a call from an epidemiologist from outside of Guam. A traveler infected with the virus was advised not to travel to Guam but did so anyway. The public health department has isolated the traveler and is monitoring the case. The department does not consider monkeypox to be a big risk like COVID-19 or the upcoming seasonal flu.
Monkeypox is a rare disease related to the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are like smallpox but are rarely fatal. Symptoms include developing rashes that may be painful or itchy. The rash goes through several changes before scabbing and healing. It is also possible to experience flu-like symptoms before developing a rash. Monkeypox spreads through close contact with a person infected with the virus. This includes:
- direct contact with the rash, scabs, or bodily fluids from a person with monkeypox
- direct contact with objects or surfaces touched by a person with monkeypox (clothing, bedding, towels, etc.)
According to the CDC, 98% of monkeypox patients identified as men who have sex with men. Education and care for the gay community are needed to prevent the further spread of monkeypox.
In August, Governor Lou Leon Guerrero told The Guam Daily Post that the Department of Public Health and Services was “…well prepared to address the monkeypox.” Despite the department’s quick reaction to the single case, the island’s current vaccine supply is only enough for 150 people. With a current population of 172,029, less than 0.09% could be vaccinated.
It is currently recommended to get tested by a local health care provider if experiencing a rash. Contact a health care provider if you have been close to someone with monkeypox.