Welcome to the Mayo Clinic’s Community Outreach and Engagement Research Services (COERS) blog. COERS partners with communities and works in collaboration with internal and external stakeholders to develop and execute community outreach, engagement initiatives, and health equity research to address the needs of the communities we serve.

Like other minority groups in the United States, Hispanic patients experience several important health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, mental health issues, and certain types of cancer more frequently compared to non-Hispanic whites. Hispanics often face additional challenges that make it harder to access and benefit from primary care, including lower amounts of adequate insurance coverage, language barriers within the healthcare system, limited health literacy, economic barriers, and mistrust of the healthcare system. As a result, when Hispanic patients face illness or disability, they may struggle to know what options are the best for their individual care.

JAX Saludable (Healthy Jacksonville) brings together 300+ Hispanic community members to further explore issues of health inequities affecting the Hispanic population, with direct, purposeful, and culturally relevant efforts from local and state officials to improve Hispanic health with targeted and meaningful engagement directives that involve Hispanic community leaders.



Monkey Pox: What is it and how can it be prevented?

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus. The monkeypox virus usually affects rodents, such as rats or mice, or nonhuman primates, such as monkeys. But it can occur in people.

Monkeypox usually occurs in Central and West Africa. Cases outside of Africa are often due to:

  • International travel
  • Imported animals
  • Close contact with an animal or person with monkeypox

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) monitors cases that have been reported in countries that don't often have monkeypox, such as the United States. In the 2022 monkeypox outbreak, the CDC is monitoring many cases of monkeypox throughout the world, including Europe and the United States.

What are the symptoms of monkeypox and what does monkeypox look like?

Monkeypox symptoms may start 5 to 21 days after you're exposed. The time between when you're exposed and when you have symptoms is called the incubation period.

Monkeypox symptoms last 2 to 4 weeks and may include:

  • Fever
  • Skin rash
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backaches
  • Chills
  • Tiredness
  • Swollen lymph nodes

About 1 to 4 days after you begin having a fever, a skin rash starts. The monkeypox rash often first appears on the face, hands, or feet and then spreads to other parts of the body. The monkeypox rash goes through many stages. Flat spots turn into blisters. Then the blisters fill with pus, scab over and fall off over a period of 2 to 4 weeks.

You can spread monkeypox while you have symptoms. So from when your symptoms start until your rash and scabs heal.

See your healthcare provider right away if you have a new rash or any monkeypox symptoms, even if you don't know anyone with monkeypox.

How does the monkeypox virus spread?

The monkeypox virus causes monkeypox. The monkeypox virus spreads through close contact with an infected animal or person. Or it can spread when a person handles materials such as blankets that have been in contact with someone who has monkeypox.

The monkeypox virus spreads from person to person through:

  • Direct contact with rashes, scabs, or body fluids of a person with monkey pox
  • Extended close contact (more than four hours) with respiratory droplets from an infected person. This includes sexual contact.
  • Clothes, sheets, blankets, or other materials that have been in contact with rashes or body fluids of an infected person.
  • An infected pregnant person can spread the monkeypox virus to a fetus.

Monkeypox spreads from an animal to a person through:

  • Animal bites or scratches
  • Wild game that is cooked for food
  • Products made of infected animals
  • Direct contact with body fluids or rashes of animals with monkeypox

What can I do to prevent becoming infected with or spreading the monkeypox virus?

Take these steps to prevent infection with or the spread of the monkeypox virus:

  • Avoid close contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
  • Avoid handling clothes, sheets, blankets or other materials that have been in contact with an infected animal or person.
  • Isolate people who have monkeypox from healthy people.
  • Wash your hands well with soap and water after any contact with an infected person or animal.
  • Avoid animals that may carry the virus.

Some smallpox vaccines can prevent monkeypox, including the ACAM2000 and Jynneos vaccines. These vaccines can be used to prevent monkeypox because smallpox and monkeypox are caused by related viruses.

Healthcare providers may suggest that people who have been exposed to monkeypox get vaccinated. Some people who are at risk of being exposed to the virus in their work, such as lab workers, may get vaccinated too.

The CDC doesn't recommend that everyone get vaccinated against monkeypox at this time.

What is the treatment for monkeypox?

Treatment for most people with monkeypox is aimed at relieving symptoms. Care may include drinking enough liquids and pain management.

If you have monkeypox, isolate at home in a separate room from family and pets until your rash and scabs heal.

There is no specific treatment approved for monkeypox. Healthcare providers may treat monkeypox with some antiviral drugs used to treat smallpox, such as tecovirimat (TPOXX) or brincidofovir (Tembexa). For those unlikely to respond to the vaccine, care providers may offer vaccinia immune globulin, which has antibodies from people who have been given the smallpox vaccine.

What are the complications of monkeypox?

Monkeypox complications can include:

  • Severe scars on the face, arm, and legs
  • Blindness
  • Other infections
  • Death, in rare cases

The type of monkeypox virus spreading in the 2022 outbreak, called the West African type, rarely leads to death.

Remember that monkeypox is rare in the U.S. and the monkeypox virus doesn't spread easily between people without close contact. But if you have a new rash or any symptoms of monkeypox, contact your health care provider.

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Wellness Rx (October)

As cancer deaths decline, access to care remains a challenge in some communities

Cancer remains the second-leading cause of death in the U.S., but the number of people dying from cancer continues to decline. In the last three decades, the overall rate of death from cancer has decreased 33%. Data reported recently for 2019 and 2020 shows the trend continues.

The decline, according to various reports, is attributed to increased awareness around prevention, screening, early diagnosis, and treatment of more common cancers.

Folakemi Odedina, Ph.D., deputy director of community outreach for the Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center, says the news is worth celebrating, but there is still much work to be done.

“It is great news for people who are in the cancer community. Whether you are a scientist or a clinician, a survivor, a patient, or even an advocate, knowing that some of the work that we are doing is really making an impact is great — and a result of the collaboration of many — but we are not where we want to be," says Dr. Odedina.

The burden of cancer is significant. According to the American Cancer Society, almost 2 million new cancer diagnoses are expected this year. And more than 602,000 people died from cancer in 2020, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Even though we have declining death rates, we still continue to see huge gaps and to see disparities in certain racial and ethnic minorities," notes Dr. Odedina. "In some communities, especially Black or Latino communities, and in parts of the Asian and Pacific Islander population, we see some significant disparities in the area of cancer. What that says to us is we still have a lot to do."

At Mayo Clinic’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, teams are working daily to advance the science around new therapies and treatments, but, Dr. Odedina says, there is also an increased focus on minority community outreach. "It is important to be addressing cancer from a prevention perspective to reduce the risk of cancer, as well as the diagnostic and screening components, but we need to build advocacy through collaboration and partnerships within the communities. And the Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center is doing it in a variety of ways."

One area of particular interest for Dr. Odedina is increasing minority representation in research. "We want to make sure these people are represented in our research as we aim to advance things further across the continuum of care," she says.

Personally, Dr. Odedina is focused on addressing inequities in prostate cancer. Since 2014, she says, there has been a steady uptick in prostate cancer incidence, especially in Black men. This is particularly concerning since data from the American Cancer Society indicates a decline in the number of men overall diagnosed with cancer in the past five years.

"Prostate cancer affects men globally, but being of Black race is one of the risk factors for prostate cancer," says Dr. Odedina, adding that Black men have a 50% increased risk, with 1 in 6 men developing prostate cancer in their lifetime.

While there may be social, environmental, and other genetic factors at play, it is critical to find answers, especially if the aim is to continue to decrease the number of cancer deaths overall.

"We need to engage Black men in prostate cancer research and prostate cancer clinical trials if we're going to alleviate disparities. But more so, we need to focus on all increasing diversity in research for all cancers so we can address why some are still rising and why others are decreasing," she says.

Courtesy: Mayo Clinic News Network