FAIRMONT, W.Va. (WBOY) — As monkeypox cases rise across the country, health department officials in north central West Virginia are prepared for the possibility of cases.  

West Virginia has seen two confirmed cases of monkeypox as of Aug. 1—one in Kanawha County and one in Berkeley County. Marion County Health Department officials said that it’s a concern for their county, but they believe they have a relativity low-risk population.

The Marion County Health Department did investigate a possible case in the county, but that turned out to be negative.  

Monkeypox is spread through direct contact with open sores from another person with the virus.  

Sores from Monkeypox (Nexstar Media Wire)

“We typically say intimate direct contact. It can be spread through sexual activity. It can be spread if someone uses clothing or towels that someone uses that had open lesions,” Marion County Health Department Administrator Lloyd White said. “Basically, any time that you can get exposed to open lesions then you’re going to have the risk of getting it.” 

Monkeypox isn’t as big of a concern to health officials as COVID-19 because it is less easily transmissible. 

“I think it’s easier to control. It’s not spread respiratorily like COVID is,” White said. “Any disease that’s spread around like COVID is more challenging and more difficult to control.”  

There is a vaccine that can protect people from monkeypox, but the Marion County Health Department currently does not have it on hand.  

Marion County Health Department (WBOY Image)

“If some point in time the need arises, we will offer it,” White said.  

Even without getting the monkeypox vaccine most of the population is already protected.  

“The good news is that if you’ve had smallpox vaccine at some point in time that indicates that you’re about 85% protected against monkeypox. So, we do have some protections against the smallpox vaccinations,” White said. 

White said they will continue to monitor possible cases in their county. If someone does think they have monkeypox they can go to their primary care doctor to be tested.