Michiana’s first case of Monkeypox falls in Elkhart County

Published: Jul. 19, 2022 at 6:22 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 19, 2022 at 6:48 PM EDT
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ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. (WNDU) - It’s a rare disease dating back more than 60 years.

“This is not a very common disease at all,” St. Joseph County Health Officer Dr. Bob Einterz says.

Now a recent outbreak of the monkeypox virus has health officials warning folks to stay out of harm’s way.

“We are interviewing clients that either were having some sort of rash or some sort of symptom that could fit the profile for monkeypox,” Berrien County Health Officer Guy Miller says.

The first case in Michiana falls in Elkhart County. The Elkhart County Health Department reports one official confirmed case, and one probable case. But Einterz says, they soon may not be alone.

“We’ve had reports of two close contacts here within St. Joseph County,” Einterz says.

According to the CDC, monkeypox spreads mostly through close, intimate contact including kissing, cuddling or sex.

It also can spread through direct contact of scabs, rashes, or items like bedding or clothing of a person infected with monkeypox. However, Miller says the majority of folks with monkeypox have been middle-aged men in the LGBTQ community.

“We’ve been seeing a lot of them have been gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men. That doesn’t mean that other people who don’t meet that criteria may not get monkeypox,” Miller says.

Anyone with monkeypox is likely to have one of these symptoms including fever, exhaustion, body-aches, chills, or pimple-blister looking rashes on your body.

Miller says the best way to protect yourself from the virus spreading is to keep your rash covered and to get vaccinated.

“We haven’t seen it circulating in the younger population. It’s been mostly middle-age men that we have seen. It doesn’t mean it can’t spread. We need to vigilant, we need to make sure we’re prepared and we need to make sure we have procedures in place for how to respond,” Miller says.

Einterz says the vaccine must be given within the first four days of exposure for it to be effective. Health officials say symptoms could last between two to four weeks if infected with monkeypox.

Upon recovery, health officials recommend anyone with the virus to contact their local health provider, get tested, isolate, and to wear a mask.

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