Kentucky health officials announced Friday that the state’s first probable case of monkeypox has been identified in a resident of Jefferson County.
“The patient remains isolated, and health officials are working to identify anyone the patient may have had close contact with while infectious,” the Department for Public Health said in a news release. “Confirmatory testing is pending at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” The CDC has identified 201 monkeypox cases in 28 states.
State Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said in the release, “Identifying the first case of monkeypox in Kentucky is concerning but not surprising. Fortunately, the risk to the general public remains low. We continue to work closely with CDC and our local health department and healthcare partners to contain the spread of this virus.”
Monkeypox can be transmitted through body fluids, sores created by the disease, contaminated items such as bedding or clothing, or respiratory droplets during “prolonged face-to-face contact,” the release said.
The disease usually begins with a flu-like illness, including fever and swelling of lymph nodes five to 21 days after exposure, followed one to three days later by a rash or lesions that are often painful . They usually begin on the face but may occur anywhere. Illness generally lasts two to four weeks. Infected people are considered contagious from the time symptoms start until all scabs from the rash have fallen off and the skin has healed.
Monkeypox can spread through sexual contact, so the health department “urges you to be vigilant,” the release says. “People who have symptoms of monkeypox, particularly the characteristic rash or lesions, should take the following steps: Visit a medical provider for an evaluation; cover the area of the rash with clothing; wear a mask,” and avoid close contact with others.
The CDC says, “It’s not clear how the people were exposed to monkeypox, but early data suggest that gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men make up a high number of cases. However, anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk.”
If you develop a rash in the genital or anal area and don’t have a regular health-care provider, you can get medical attention at local health department sexual-health clinics. The state health department is advising providers that “the rash may be hard to distinguish from syphilis, herpes simplex virus infection, chancroid, varicella zoster, and other more common infections.” More information is available on the state health department website.