First confirmed case of monkeypox identified in St. Joseph County

Published: Jul. 26, 2022 at 2:57 PM EDT
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ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. (WNDU) - St. Joseph County health officials are reporting the first confirmed case of monkeypox in the county.

Health officials say the risk to the community at-large is low. However, residents are urged to watch for symptoms and seek medical care if necessary.

The first cases of monkeypox in the state of Indiana were identified back in June. Meanwhile, Michiana’s first case was confirmed earlier this month in Elkhart County.

Health officials say monkeypox is an infection caused by a virus. In cases reported in the U.S., monkeypox is typically a rash associated at times with fever and muscle aches. These symptoms may precede the onset of the rash.

The rash can range from only a few skin lesions to many skin lesions. It may initially appear like small bumps on the skin that progress to blister-like lesions or small ulcerations, eventually forming a crust. The rash is often associated with swollen lymph nodes.

Following the news, Dr. Nicole Riordan of South Bend spoke on the pox as part of Beacon Health’s Medical Minute Interview.

“So monkeypox is an orthopox virus,” Dr. Riordan explained. “It’s in the same family as something like chickenpox. And it is transmitted mainly through direct contact, and that’s usually prolonged contact, such as intimacy, kissing, potentially.”

Health officials say the virus can be transmitted from an infected person to an uninfected person through the following mechanisms:

  • Direct contact with the rash, scabs, or bodily fluids
  • Prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact (such as kissing, cuddling, and/or sexual activity)
  • Touching items (clothing, bedding, etc.) that have been touched by the infectious rash or bodily fluids
  • Pregnant women can also transmit the virus to the fetus through the placenta

To prevent the spread of and infection with monkeypox, health officials say you should:

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
    1. Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person suspected of monkeypox.
    2. Do not cuddle, kiss, hug, or have sex with someone who has monkeypox.
    3. Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person who has monkeypox.
  • Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

The CDC recommends vaccination for people whose sexual partners have been diagnosed in the past two weeks with monkeypox.

For more information and updates, please visit the Indiana State Department of Health’s Monkeypox response page and the CDC.

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