Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health is treating cases of monkeypox, marking the first confirmed cases of the disease in Lancaster County.
A spokesperson said the health system is assessing and treating current and suspected cases of the virus.
“At this time, the number of cases remains low,” spokeswoman Marcie Brody said in an email to LNP | LancasterOnline on Thursday afternoon. “The (Pennsylvania) Department of Health remains your best point of contact regarding information regarding current and suspected cases of monkeypox, and the process for investigating potential cases both locally and statewide.”
Brody did not give further details.
Earlier in the day, WellSpan Health confirmed cases of monkeypox in its health system, which includes Lancaster County, although it did not provide further details, citing privacy laws.
“I can confirm that we have had cases across the health system, and that includes in our eastern region, which we refer to as Lancaster and Lebanon counties,” Ryan Coyle, spokesperson for WellSpan Health, wrote in an email to LNP | Lancasters online.
Coyle wrote that he could not share specific case counts by hospital due to the privacy restrictions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPPA.
WellSpan Health operates WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital at 169 Martin Avenue in the Borough of Ephrata and WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital at 252 S. 4th St. in the city of Lebanon.
UPMC said no cases of the disease have been reported at UPMC Lititz, its only Lancaster County hospital at 1500 Highlands Drive in Warwick Township.
“The Infection Prevention Branch at UPMC Lititz and UPMC in Central Pennsylvania is closely monitoring global and national cases of monkeypox. No UPMC Lititz patients have been diagnosed with the monkeypox linked to the current cases,” UPMC Lititz President Deborah Willwerth said in an emailed statement. “We have shared the latest information from state and federal authorities with our healthcare providers. If one of our clinicians suspects a patient has monkeypox, we will immediately consult with our public health partners.
More than 10,000 cases of monkeypox were confirmed in the United States as of 2 p.m. Wednesday, including 268 in Pennsylvania,according to data on the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. The health agency reported 1,391 cases Wednesday marked the highest number of cases reported in a day since it began tracking cases in May. The Pennsylvania Department of Health previously told LNP | LancasterOnline that it would not share data at the county level, as this could lead to the identification of people who have contracted monkeypox.
Symptoms of monkeypox are similar to symptoms of smallpox and the disease is rarely fatal, according to the CDC.
Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle pain and back pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills, respiratory symptoms such as sore throat, stuffy nose or cough, and a rash that may look like pimples or blisters that appear on the face, inside the mouth and other parts of the body, according to the CDC, which adds that the illness typically lasts two to four weeks.
The disease can be spread through direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs or bodily fluids, according to the CDC. It can also be spread through respiratory secretions during prolonged face-to-face contact or physical contact such as kissing, hugging, or sex.
Monkey pox vaccine
In June, the Biden administration has launched a national strategy to provide monkeypox vaccines to people at higher risk of exposure. The plan included distributing the two-dose JYNNEOS vaccine, which the Food and Drug Administration has approved for protection against smallpox and monkeypox in people 18 and older deemed to be at high risk for infection, according to the White House.
The White House changed its plan earlier this week with the goal of increasing the number of vaccine doses available by up to five times through an alternative dosing regimen, the White House announced tuesday.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has distributed more than 670,000 JYNNEOS vaccines to states and jurisdictions since the outbreak began in May, the White House announced Tuesday. He said he was preparing to distribute an additional 400,000 vaccines.
Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health offers the monkeypox vaccine for eligible people Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the third floor of the health system’s Physicians Comprehensive Care Center at 554 N. Duke St. in the city of Lancaster, according to its website. More information is available and required appointments can be made at https://lanc.news/3PiVhGr or by calling the center at 717-544-4943.
“LG Health has received a limited supply of vaccines,” Brody wrote in his email to LNP | Lancaster Online Thursday. “As a result, vaccinations are currently prioritized for individuals currently following CDC guidelines and as advised by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.”
Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health operates Lancaster General Hospital at 555 N. Duke St. and Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital at 333 Harrisburg Ave., both in the city of Lancaster, and Women & Babies Hospital at 690 Good Drive and the Lancaster Rehabilitation Hospital at 675 Good Drive, both in East Hempfield Township.
WellSpan Health does not currently offer the monkeypox vaccine.
“We are working closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Health regarding access to the monkeypox vaccine, but we have not been named as the vendor at this time,” Coyle wrote in his email to LNP | Lancasters online.
A spokesperson for UPMC Lititz said the monkeypox vaccine was “not yet in stock.”