Southern 7 Health Department (S7HD) has confirmed the first cast of monkeypox virus (MPV) in the Southern 7 region. The department was notified on September 7 of a resident who tested positive for the virus. Southern 7 is collaborating with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to complete contact tracing for the case to identify any close contacts and provide vaccines to those identified as an exposure risk.
The monkeypox virus was discovered in 1958 and is endemic in parts of the world. Since March 2022 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been tracking multiple clusters of monkeypox that have been reported globally in 69 countries that do not normally report monkeypox.
“Monkeypox is rare and most commonly spreads between people with close contact,” stated Rhonda Andrews-Ray, S7HD Executive Director/Public Health Administrator. “The threat of monkeypox to the general U.S population remains low.”
According to the CDC, person-to-person transmission is possible through close physical contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores, items that have been contaminated with fluids or sores (clothing, bedding, etc.), or through respiratory droplets following prolonged face-to-face contact.
Monkeypox symptoms usually start within three weeks of exposure to the virus. You may experience all or only a few of the symptoms of monkeypox:
- Muscle aches and backache
- Swollen lymph nodes
- A rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appear on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.
People who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others. However, anyone in close contact with a person with monkeypox can get it and should take steps to protect themselves.
What should you do if you have symptoms of MPV?
- See a healthcare provider if you notice a new or unexplained rash or other monkeypox symptoms.
- Remind the healthcare provider that monkeypox is circulating.
- Avoid close contact (including intimate physical contact) with others until a healthcare provider examines you.
- Avoid close contact with pets or other animals until a healthcare provider examines you.
- If you’re waiting for test results, follow the same precautions.
- If your test result is positive, stay isolated until your rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed.
While there currently is no specific treatment approved for MPV infections, antiviral drugs used to treat smallpox can sometimes be used, as smallpox and monkeypox viruses are genetically similar. If you have symptoms of monkeypox, talk to your health care provider, even if you don’t think you had contact with someone who has monkeypox.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the majority of human monkeypox cases experience mild to moderate symptoms and do not require hospitalization. Vaccines developed to protect against smallpox viruses may be used to prevent monkeypox infections. While S7HD has reported a confirmed case of MPV in the region, vaccine eligibility remains limited at this time.
Southern 7 Health Department encourages the public to stay informed and aware about the ongoing monkeypox global outbreak. For more information on MPV visit https://dph.illinois.gov/monkeypox.html.
Follow Southern 7 on the Southern 7 App, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and at www.southern7.org