NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Another two people are in isolation with monkeypox in Nashville.
The new cases bring Davidson County's count to three, and so far, it is the only county in the state reporting any patients.
According to the Metro Public Health Department, none of the patients are close contacts.
Infectious disease experts believe the patients likely contracted the virus after having skin-to-skin contact with an infected person in another state or country, or with someone in Nashville who hasn't seen a doctor yet.
Very often, monkeypox manifests on the skin in the form of a rash on the hands, face, genitals or rectum. Epidemiologist Dr. William Schaffner at Vanderbilt University Medical Center said, unlike COVID-19, standing close to someone with monkeypox is likely not going to give it to you.
"If they pass them in the supermarket, or they're in a break-room or work with them in the same office, they have zero chance of acquiring the infection," said Dr. William Schaffner. "It really has to be a really intimate and very close and usually rather prolonged association between two people. Skin-to-skin 99% of the time."
Dr. Schaffner said monkeypox is not classified as a sexually transmitted disease because intercourse isn't required for it to be passed on. However, in this global outbreak, many patients have reported their monkeypox infection appeared after a sexual encounter.
As of Sunday, none of Nashville's monkeypox cases were listed on the CDC's website. Dr. Schaffner said it can take time for the CDC to independently confirm someone is infected, and that the results from Tennessee's lab should be considered credible.
"All local providers have been provided information about how to collect specimens appropriately and send them to our state laboratory. If they make the diagnosis of an orthopoxvirus infection — that's the name of the family — that specimen is sent to the CDC for confirmation that it's really monkeypox. But we would take our state lab's positive result as virtually the same," he said.
Vaccines exist, but they're being shipped to states with large outbreaks like New York and California, which both have more than 130 cases.
As for the smallpox vaccination people routinely received before 1972, there may be some residual cross-protection against monkeypox, but epidemiologists do not know how strong that protection will be during this outbreak.