As Michigan monkeypox cases rise, here’s how to stay safe

Dr. Shira Heisler speaks with CultureShift about how vaccine eligibility has expanded in Michigan, what to look out for and who is being affected.

Vials of the monkeypox vaccine

Monkeypox vaccines are shown at the Salt Lake County Health Department Thursday, July 28, 2022, in Salt Lake City. The country’s monkeypox outbreak can still be stopped, U.S. health officials said Thursday, despite rising case numbers and so-far limited vaccine supplies.

When a population is dealing with a new health threat, what we know, who is at risk and how to help folks stay safe can be a rapidly changing information landscape. To help clarify some of this uncertainty surrounding monkeypox in Michigan, CultureShift spoke with Dr. Shira Heisler, Medical Director for the Detroit Public Health STD Clinic.

When Dr. Heisler visited the show in July, there were 27 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Michigan. Since then, that number has exceeded 100.

While it is not technically a sexually transmitted disease – which is to say, not transmitted through fluids – it is sexually associated, spreading through close interpersonal contact and things like towels and linens. It doesn’t seem to be spreading through more public surfaces like doorknobs at this time.

“The most common thing I’m seeing is pustular lesions, they look like pimples. And they can go through all these different stages and they can ulcerate and then they can ultimately scab over.”

She says the condition has yet to be lethal, but lesions can be extremely uncomfortable when in sensitive locations of the body.

“People can’t even go to the bathroom, because it’s so painful or even eat because doing anything with that type of sort of movement is really painful.”

Fortunately, there is treatment available in Detroit for severe cases of monkeypox, and vaccine eligibility has expanded since July. As for the general public, she says the best way to protect yourself is to be mindful of your contact with others, try to avoid intimate and crowded gatherings like parties or bathhouses, and to get tested at your local clinic if you notice lesions anywhere on your body.

To find out if you’re eligible and to schedule your vaccine appointment today, call the Detroit monkeypox hotline at 313-577-9080.


Photo credit: Rick Bowmer/AP

Listen: Dr. Shira Heisler shares what we should and shouldn’t be worried about as monkeypox cases rise.


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  • Sophia Jozwiak
    Sophia Jozwiak is the Digital Content and Communities Assistant for 101.9 WDET.
  • Amanda LeClaire
    Amanda LeClaire is an award-winning host and producer of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. She’s a founding producer of WDET’s flagship news talk show Detroit Today, and a former host/reporter for Arizona Public Media. Amanda is also an artist, certified intuitive and energy healer, and professional tarot reader.