AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Monkeypox cases are now being reported in the CSRA.

Augusta University saw its first case within the week here. Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Phillip Coule said that’s the best he can pinpoint in terms of a time frame, due to patient confidentiality. However, we know that there are actually more cases in the community.

“We need awareness of it, but without panic,” Dr. Coule said. “This is not going to be another COVID like pandemic.”

Health officials now alert the public about Monkeypox, a virus that causes lesions and sometimes flu like symptoms, fevers and muscle aches. Dr. Coule added that the hospital has had one case in the past week. East Central Health District’s Director reports there are others.

“I think I would make the message be it’s here,” said Dr. Lee Merchen District Health Director.

Dr. Coule also said you can get Monkeypox from intimate contact with someone else. While national reports state this outbreak comes from mostly men having sex with men, he said an exposure is being within six feet for about three hours and that puts you at risk.

“Contact with body fluids,” Dr. Coule said. “Contact with lesions on the skin. Skin to skin contact is the most common, non sexually transmissible means of infection.”

Dr. Merchen added, “It’s broken skin in contact with a pustules. It may not look like a pustules, it could be a scab. It might look like a blister at first.”

While Coule added that respiratory transmission plays a minor role, the CDC adds intimate contact includes hugging, massaging and kissing, prolonged face to face contact and touching objects and fabrics such as bedding. While most don’t have major symptoms, those who are more vulnerable are at higher risks.

“Actually, there have been hospitalizations,” Coule said. “There have been some deaths that have occurred worldwide.”

There are no current hospitalizations or deaths locally. And Dr. Merchen said the health department started giving Monkeypox vaccines last week. You can go to the Laney Walker location to get your shot.