2.5 years and five variants into the COVID-19 pandemic, there is another looming health crisis. Monkeypox. Unlike COVID, which was a novel coronavirus when it first started to kill people in China in late 2019, the first detected case of Monkeypox was found in 1958. And the first case in humans dates back to 1970. Perhaps most distressing is that there is no known cure for Monkeypox.
Dr. Uwe Schmit has been an infectious disease specialist for over 50 years; since 2009, he’s worked at Freeman Health System in Joplin. He says that Monkeypox is a highly contagious virus, and there is little vaccine available in the US. But there is some immunity thanks to another virus many of us had when we were children.
“It seems people with smallpox or vaccinated against smallpox have some protection against Monkeypox.”
The symptoms of Monkeypox and Smallpox are similar. Fever, headache, muscle aches, and a blistering rash. Another link is that it can be difficult to determine when and where you contracted the virus due to its incubation period of between five days and three weeks.
In past Monkeypox outbreaks, health departments have been able to track down individuals who have recently visited the African Congo Basin. Dr. Schmidt says there has been an alarming shift in current cases.
“More recently, they’ve found that some of these cases have started in Northern Africa. That means that the infection was spread through human transmission. From one person to another one.”
As of Wednesday, July 13, 40 out of 50 states, including Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, have reported at least one case of Monkeypox. Last weekend, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment located what was thought to be the state’s first case. However, it has yet to be confirmed and identified on the CDC’s website.
Dr. Schmidt sees the continued spread of Monkeypox in the US and the possible reclassification of the virus from an outbreak to a pandemic.
“The scary part is now, these cases abroad are suddenly spreading out of control. Before there was very little risk that anyone else was infected because human to human transmission was extremely rare. And now we’ve seen this explosion of cases.”
One positive side effect of the COVID pandemic is that you’re likely very familiar with how to protect yourself from Monkeypox. First, avoid hugging or being in close contact with someone with a bumpy rash. Also, don’t share cups or eating utensils as a general practice.
Avoid sexual contact with someone who believes they may have contracted Monkeypox. Including not sharing towels, bedding, or clothing with someone showing symptoms. A tight-fitting mask and washing your hands or using alcohol-based sanitizer regularly can reduce the risk of spreading Monkeypox.
For many of us, the lives and careers we envision morph into something else once we find the onramp to adulthood. For Florida native Laney Jones, that includes a degree in International Business Relations from a small, private college in Orlando. Then life called and told Laney it had something else entirely in mind for her. Thankfully for us, Laney answered the call.
Her fourth and latest album, released in May, Stories Up High, takes on a journey into her mind, thoughts, and emotion as she bears it all. From the title track to the anthem-like, Not Alone, to the very intimate and close, If Life Is.
Earlier this week, I spoke with Laney on the road after a concert near coastal central California.
“I grew up doing a lot of theater. I really thought that’s what I was going to do with my life. You know I studied really hard in school. I didn’t really know what for. I kind of got burnt out by the time I got to college. Funny enough, working hard on learning things.”
Before her pivot and the release of her first album, 2011’s Beyond The Blue, Jones had no previous experience writing music or playing instruments.
“It was during that time while at school that I actually started songwriting and learning how to play instruments, like stringed instruments. Like I had never really picked up a guitar, a banjo, or anything before college.”
Now just over a decade after her debut, she’s released three more records, including this year’s Stories Up High. Laney says she hears an entirely different person comparing her debut and current releases. (YouTube link to Stories Up High video)
“It’s kind of like, you know, peeling off an onion. You know, the layers of yourself to get the core of who you are. And so many of my previous records that I’ve done before. Like I said, I’ve only been writing for about ten or eleven years or so. So those first kind of records that I put out are just kind of me, getting out my thoughts.”
Laney Jones and The Spirits will be performing at the Miller Theater inside the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts on Thursday, July 21in collaboration with Olive Street Presents. The concert starts at 7 pm. Click this link for ticket information.
Looking for something to watch this weekend? Well Fletcher Powell has one new release that he warns to avoid on Netflix. His review of Persuasion.