ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Monkeypox continues to spread across the globe, prompting the World Health Organization to declare the disease a global health emergency. 

In Monroe County, cases of monkeypox remain low, and Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza said the transmission is not a concern for the public. However, doctors say it’s important you stay vigilant and know how to protect yourself. 

News 8’s Ally Peters spoke with Dr. Colleen Fogarty, the Chair of the University of Rochester Department of Family Medicine, about monkeypox and what people need to know. 

What is monkeypox?

“Monkeypox is a viral infection. It’s rather rare. It typically does not cause serious illness but in some cases can progress to a serious condition causing hospitalization or death,” Dr. Fogarty said.  

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

“The classic symptoms are rashes or bumps or blisters, that can be in different parts of the body in and around the genitals or groin, and also on hands, feet chest or face,” Dr. Fogarty said. “Sometimes there can be flu-like symptoms like fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, or fatigue.”

How does monkeypox spread?

“We know a few things about the spread. One is that it comes in close physical contact between people and direct contact with a monkeypox sore or rashes,” Dr. Fogarty said. “It can also be spread through respiratory droplets or through mouth fluids, and one can contract it through touching objects or fabrics that have the infection on them.”

How can you protect yourself and your family?

“First is avoiding any skin-to-skin contact with somebody who has a rash or other monkey pox-related symptoms. And if you’re in a sexual relationship, checking with your partner to make sure that they don’t have a rash or other symptoms that would indicate monkeypox,” Dr. Fogarty said. “If you do experience symptoms, make sure to reach out to your healthcare team.”

Monroe County just opened up vaccine availability for some people. Who can get vaccinated?

“If you have not already had monkeypox, and if you’re a gay or bisexual male, if you’re a man who has sex with other men, or a transgender or gender-nonconforming or gender non-binary person, and you’re 18 or older, and you’ve had multiple sex partners in the last 14 days, you would be eligible for vaccination against monkeypox,” Dr. Fogarty said.

If you want to sign up for a vaccine appointment through the Monroe County Health Department, click here.

If you want to learn more about monkeypox, click here.