As we continue to struggle with the never-ending COVID-19 pandemic, medical officials are also urging the public to pay attention towards another disease that is causing some health related problems worldwide. You probably have seen reports on how monkey pox cases have increased, the virus is most rampant in Central Africa. Closer to home, only a handful of people have contracted this contagious disease with statistics showing 4 in neighboring New York and two cases here in The Bay State. 

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The Massachusetts Department of Public Health stated that two adult men who recently had close contact with one another have been diagnosed with monkey pox. Locally, in The Berkshires, a Pittsfield public health nurse discussed the precautions being taken in a recent interview with The National Public Radio affiliate in The Albany, New York area as there are options for testing in the vicinity, however an availability of vaccinations is "extremely limited".

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If someone is diagnosed with monkey pox, some of the symptoms include cases of the flu, swelling of lymph nodes, back pain, muscle aches and fatigue. You must also be aware of extended rashes on the face and throughout your body. Judging from some of the photos shown on local and national newscasts, the end result is not attractive to say the least. Keep in mind, the virus spreads with contact of bodily fluids, respiratory droplets, sores or shared items that have been contaminated.

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Health officials are closely monitoring the situation as medical personnel are duplicating the same tactics that were used to keep an eye on COVID-19 which include contact tracing, PCR tests, isolating prospective patients and using various personal protective equipment to prevent the spread from accelerating to a high capacity.

There are close to 20,000 worldwide cases of monkey pox as steps continue to educate people on the risks and further testing proves to be a major component in this delicate matter as steps are being taken locally in the Berkshires and throughout the tri-state region to keep the public alert about any developing news regarding this new epidemic as the recent COVID-19 pandemic has prepared medical personnel to get a better handle of this disease.

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BOTTOM LINE: Take precautions and "be careful out there" the words of wisdom from Michael Conrad (Sgt. Phil Esterhaus from "Hill Street Blues") after briefing police officers on their daily agenda at the beginning of each episode of this 1980's classic NBC TV show.

Answers to 25 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

Vaccinations for COVID-19 began being administered in the U.S. on Dec. 14, 2020. The quick rollout came a little more than a year after the virus was first identified in November 2019. The impressive speed with which vaccines were developed has also left a lot of people with a lot of questions. The questions range from the practical—how will I get vaccinated?—to the scientific—how do these vaccines even work?

Keep reading to discover answers to 25 common COVID-19 vaccine questions.