NORFOLK, Va. — Rising monkeypox numbers are leaving some people worried about catching the virus through day-to-day activities.
Virginia now has 122 cases of monkeypox. Nationwide, more than 7,500 people have tested positive.
Sunny Haynes got her smallpox vaccine as soon as she could.
"I work a lot within the queer community, and I cannot be a good advocate and activist if I’m not willing to subject myself to the same things I’m asking them to," Haynes said.
She said getting the shot in Virginia Beach was pretty simple.
"Once they got thinking about the demographic I serve… they called me back and gave me an appointment."
Cindy Williams, Chief Pharmacy Officer with Riverside Health System, said monkeypox is primarily spread through skin-to-skin contact.
"Your day-to-day activities should not be risky at all," she said.
Williams said you’re highly unlikely to get monkeypox by doing things like going to the movies, the gym, or grocery shopping.
However, any skin-to-skin contact with someone who is infected, or using a towel or linens that an infected person has used, poses a larger risk.
"This is not spread as a respiratory infection like COVID was, where we could get it just by being in close contact and breathing basically the same air," said Williams.
Some health experts have suggested covering up when going out into large crowds to air on the side of caution.
Dr. Laura Forlano, Deputy Director of the Office of Epidemiology with the Virginia Department of Health, said besides getting vaccinated with the smallpox vaccine, she suggests two main preventative measures.
"Washing your hands, trying to stay isolated from someone while they are ill and infectious. Those are probably the two most powerful prevention strategies."
Fever, intense headache, swollen lymph nodes, a rash and lesions are all symptoms of monkeypox.
Haynes urges people to remember monkeypox is not just spreading within the LGBTQ community and everyone needs to pay attention.
"This is not just a queer STD. It’s skin-to-skin contact."
Williams encourages people who think they have the virus and want to get tested, to warn their healthcare provider before they come in, so they have time to take precautions.