BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD)– As new Moneypox cases are being discovered in Texas and Florida, Louisiana health officials are saying they wouldn’t be surprised if the outbreak makes its way to Louisiana.

“Louisiana has not one (of the states where cases were found) yet, but I would expect that to change at some point because it’s out there for sure,” stated Louisiana Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter.

Monkeypox, now a national buzzword, is beginning to draw the attention of many individuals on a local level.

“It’s a virus that is a cousin of smallpox, which we’ve eradicated. But it’s much, much less dangerous than smallpox. Monkeypox has been endemic in parts of Africa, Central and West Africa for years. It typically causes a rash and a fever,” he said.

Though it could soon make its way to Louisiana, Dr. Kanter says there’s no need for concern.

“This is something to be aware of. It’s something to follow the news. It’s not something to freak out or panic about. This is not COVID. This is not a global pandemic. This doesn’t spread nearly as easily as COVID does. This is not nearly as serious or potentially fatal as COVID is,” Dr. Kanter explained.

Ochsner Vice President of Medical Affairs Ralph Dauterive said health officials have been monitoring the area and testing for the virus.

“We report any time we’re testing for that, or if it’s positive or suspect that it gets reported to the state health agencies so that, you know, we’re keeping track of that type of thing,” he said.

Doctors added that it’s important to be aware of the symptoms.

“These are relatively big pox lesions. They generally start off as red sort of brown lesions, and they progress into a little vesicle that sort of opens up and crusts over,” stated Dr. Dauterive.

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“In most people, so far, it’s presenting almost like a sexually transmitted disease,” added Dr. Kanter.

They said it can spread through the air but that it’s mainly passed on through physical contact.

If cases continue to increase, doctors may bring back the smallpox vaccine.

“It’s not a hard vaccine for them to manufacture, and they could produce it pretty quickly,” Dauterive said.

Physicians recommend that anyone who develops a fever or suspicious rashes stay away from other people and tell their doctor about their symptoms.