JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)- As Ballad Health sees a surge in COVID-19 cases again, the healthcare’s infection prevention team is eyeing another disease: monkeypox.

As of Wednesday, the World Health Organization has declared it to be a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern,” which is one step below a pandemic.

“It’s not something that you’re going to get simply passing someone in the store, it’s that prolonged face-to-face contact, that skin-to-skin contact,” said Jamie Swift, Ballad Health’s Chief Infection Prevention Officer. “As it becomes more prevalent in our community then certainly there’s that risk of spreading to household contacts. Then you think about as children, if a child is exposed and goes back to school, then there’s all those things and different ways that it starts to spread once it’s really introduced to a community.”

Monkeypox isn’t new. There have been outbreaks in the United States and other countries in the past.

So far, Ballad Health has only treated two confirmed cases, and tests are pending from some urgent care facilities and doctor’s offices. It also must be reported to the health department.

As of Wednesday, Swift says there isn’t much concern locally.

“I do not think we’re going to see large outbreaks or school exposures of monkeypox,” she said. “I think the risk is low where we stand right now. But, I think it’s always an important time before school starts to have the basic infection prevention discussion with children– washing your hands, not sharing items, not eating and drinking after each other.”

The most common symptoms are rash, blisters, fatigue and fever. Symptoms could last between two and four weeks. People are contagious until the last blister clears and should monitor their symptoms.

Not everyone will need treatment.

“There’s actually a post-exposure prophylaxis treatment. Those high-risk contacts may be offered that prevention treatment through the department of health,” Swift said.

Contact tracing among medical providers and the community is a must.

“That post-exposure prophylaxis is actually the vaccine. So if you are identified as a high-risk contact with high-risk exposure, then you may be offered the vaccine to prevent you from illness,” Swift said. “There are certain cities that are offering the vaccine to high-risk groups right now to really try to limit spread.”

The Personal Protective Equipment for medical providers is similar to what is worn for COVID-positive patients like eye protection, gloves and masks.

The best thing to do is get tested if you’re concerned about a new rash.

“If you have a rash that’s progressing to these blisters, you want to have that looked at,” said Swift. “There are lots of things it could be. It may or may not be anything of concern.”