RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A North Carolina-based Labcorp is the first national lab to start testing for monkeypox. Its involvement will create more access to testing — while also streamlining the process.
“We have to test a whole bunch of people who are negative before we catch someone who is positive. So, we can’t be too restrictive in our testing,” Dr. David Wohl, an infectious disease expert at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s School of Medicine said.
Labcorp said they will have the ability to process 10,000 tests per week at its primary lab in Burlington, North Carolina. That doubles the country’s current testing capacity.
Testing is more complicated than a COVID-19 nose swab. Wohl said it requires samples to be taken from a Monkeypox sore.
“It’s a little more (of a) cumbersome process of collection so more lab capacity is important but we also need providers who are knowledgeable in collecting the sample and knowing how to send it to the lab safely,” Wohl said.
For now, tests won’t be readily available like tests for COVID-19 or the flu.
More than 30 states have confirmed monkeypox cases. North Carolina has just two of the country’s 560 cases.
“Certainly, I would be worried about catching COVID-19 right now,” Wohl said. “I would not be worried for most of us about Monkeypox. Interestingly, Monkeypox for the moment is largely being spread by very intimate contact.”
Still, he expects there are more than just two cases in the state.
And he’s right. The first case in Wake County was just reported at 5:18 p.m. Wednesday. But, Wohl meant there are more cases in the state then are being officially reported.
Do I have Monkeypox?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Monkeypox is spread through close, physical contact or by touching something that has made contact with an infected person, such as clothing or bed sheets.
“If you see a new, unusual-looking lesion you’ve never seen anything quite like it before, it reminds you a little bit of chickenpox, but maybe it doesn’t, and especially if you have a swollen gland nearby, that may be something to call your doctor about,” Wohl said.
If you don’t have a primary care doctor, call your local health department.
Symptoms may include:
- Muscle aches and backache
- Swollen lymph nodes
The most obvious sign is a rash with bumps resembling pimples or blisters. They can appears on the face, inside the mouth, hands, feet, chest or private areas.
What to do if you test positive
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has ordered an additional 2.5 million doses of JYNNEOS, a vaccine that prevent Monkeypox if you’ve been exposed to the virus. However there are no specific treatments to cure the disease.
“For most people, it just goes away by itself. We just have to protect them from spreading it to others but for those who need it, there are some medicines that could be used to try to treat the virus,” Wohl said.
The CDC said symptoms typically last two to four weeks.
It also said antivirals, such as tecovirimat, may be recommended for people who are more likely to get severely ill, like those with weakened immune systems.
The North Carolina Department of Public Health said infected people should isolate until the skin lesions have completely healed.