We should have learned something with COVID — Corrales Fire Commander Tanya Lattin


Even before the White House declared Monkeypox a public health emergency on August 4, Corrales Fire Commander Tanya Lattin was letting Village officials know the virus was likely to become endemic.

“It really looks like we missed the chance to shut it down,” she said at the council’s July 19 meeting,

Monkeypox is a virus. It is related to smallpox and is zoonotic, meaning it can be passed animal to human and human to animal. Until recently, Monkeypox was rarely seen outside Central and West Africa, however, in May the virus was confirmed in two cases in London. By August 2, there were 2,672 cases in the United Kingdom.

From those initial cases, Monkeypox has spread worldwide, with the United States, at more than 7,000 cases, having more than any other country that doesn’t normally have the virus.

To get an idea of how quickly Monkeypox is spreading, when Lattin addressed the Village Council on July 26, there were just under 3500 cases in the U.S. In less than two weeks, the number of cases doubled.

Some online sources have suggested that Monkeypox is a virus primarily affecting bisexual and gay men. In response, Lattin clarified that the virus is not sexually transmitted, adding, “We don’t want [that] stigma.”

She identified how Monkeypox is spread.

First, the virus is spread by close touch, such as hugging, shaking hands or kissing. The lesions transmit the virus until they scab over and fall off. The virus can be spread via droplets, as well.

Unlike Covid-19, Monkeypox can be transmitted via fomites, which means it can live on inanimate objects, such as countertops and cabinetry, and even bedding.

To combat that transmission, Lattin advised people should disinfect surfaces, sanitize clothing, and when changing the bed to refrain from shaking out bedding. Doing so can cause the virus to go airborne and spread.

Lattin said the last time the U.S. had a Monkeypox outbreak, it was transmitted via pet prairie dogs that infected their owners. A bit of research on the CDC website revealed the outbreak occurred in 2003, with 47 confirmed cases, and that the prairie dogs had become infected because of being housed close to animals imported from Africa.

When asked if the smallpox vaccine, which older adults may have received when children, afforded protection, Lattin explained it was unlikely, since the effectiveness of vaccines can wane.

The most effective vaccine against Monkeypox is Jynneos, which is in short supply. Another vaccine, ACAM2000, protects against smallpox, which should in turn offer some protection against Monkeypox; however, those with eczema and certain other health issues can’t take ACAM2000.

Finally, Lattin expressed frustration with the Monkeypox outbreak.

“We should have learned something with COVID…. You’ve got to think of others…. Be caring,” she said. “Care about your community, and a lot of problems wouldn’t be problems.”