LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas Department of Health reports a growing number of monkeypox cases in the state – the highest number so far since the outbreak.

As of Friday, September 2, there are 41 cases in the state.

According to the ADH, the virus spreads through close, skin-to-skin contact. While anyone can be at risk of catching it through things like clothes or bedding, it does target a specific group of people, according to Dr. Atul Kothari with the Department of Health.

“It’s predominantly amongst men and it seems to be transmitted by close contact,” Kothari said. “A lot of them occur in men who have sex with men.”

Specifically, men who have sex with men who:

• have had multiple sex partners within the last year OR

• engage in anonymous group sex OR

• engage in sex at venues or events OR

• diagnosed with HIV

While 41 cases might not seem like a lot for the entire state, Dr. Kothari said his concern is for more than just case numbers.

“The concern is not that we’ll see thousands of cases, but access to care, getting patients in for testing and treatment as quickly as possible.”

A major part of preventing further spread is vaccines.

“We’ve been providing the monkey pox vaccine for about two and a half weeks,” said Scott Pace, owner of Kavanaugh Pharmacy in Little Rock.

He said he has seen an increase in demand for the shots recently, and his pharmacy has given out around 15 in the last week.

Dr. Kothari said the virus can be extremely serious if it is not treated properly and early on.

However, Pace said with vaccines available, those at risk can get ahead of the virus as much as possible.

“It’s encouraging that we have a prevention option on the table,” Pace said.

The following photo from the Arkansas Department of Health clarifies who is eligible for vaccines.

Pace said you can call and make an appointment at Kavanaugh Pharmacy if this applies to you.