Arizona researchers develop new monkeypox test with faster results as cases rise
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The Centers for Disease Control map shows that more than 10,000 monkeypox cases now exist across the nation--149 of which are here in Arizona. In response to the outbreak, some Arizona health experts have developed a new monkeypox test that they think might be the answer to slowing the spread of the virus.
SonoraQuest has created a monkeypox test that produces faster results because it “does not require initial screening before specifically testing for monkeypox.” This means that there’s less waiting, less time to spread in between testing and receiving results, and less time waiting anxiously to learn if you have the virus. Confirmed results for those who have been tested will come in between three to four days, SonoraQuest says. More than 200 tests have been sent back to them so far, and the lab says they expect more to come.
Dr. Stacy White is the scientific medical director at SonoraQuest. “This particular test is very similar to the COVID PCR test. It’s the same technology, and so if you are suspected to have been exposed to monkeypox, you would see your health care provider,” she explained. “They would take a swab, and unlike a COVID test that goes for your nasal passage, this actually will get a sampling of a lesion or blister. [The doctor will] put it into a transport media, get it to us, and we get that off for testing.”
Anyone interested in being vaccinated is asked to reach out to MCDPH so they can be alerted when a vaccine is available to them. You can check your eligibility here. Researchers say that the virus is spread by prolonged skin-to-skin contact with someone who is infected and that it can infect anyone. Right now, many cases have been among men or transwomen who have sex with men. That’s why they, along with anyone in close contact with a positive case, are among those eligible for the vaccine. Health officials stress that monkeypox is not an STD and is not a “gay virus.”
The director of clinical services at the Southwest Center says that health officials are asking those concerned that they may have the virus to reach out to their primary care doctors first. “You have to have an active lesion that can be swabbed,” Taylor Piontek said. “You’re gonna come in, you’re gonna expect that whoever is helping you is going to be in full PPE, meaning gown, gloves, face shield, a mask, goggles...”
To learn more about the Southwest Center, the testing it offers, and how it’s working against the stigma surrounding the virus and its impact on the LGBTQ+ community, click here.
The Maricopa County Health Department does offer vaccines to those who qualify. To check if you are a candidate and to find out when the next vaccination clinic will be held, check out their website here.
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