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First probable case of monkeypox identified in Ingham County

A digitally-colorized electron microscopic image depicts monkeypox virus particles.
Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regnery
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
A digitally-colorized electron microscopic image depicts monkeypox virus particles.

The Ingham County Health Department announced Saturday that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has identified the first probable case of monkeypox in the county.

In a release, the Ingham County Health Department said the individual is isolating and does not pose a risk to the community. The department is working to identify and monitor any close contacts for symptoms.

Health Officer Linda Vail said the transmissibility of monkeypox is low and the disease is easy to protect from.

“It requires very close contact, you know, hugging, kissing, wearing clothes of somebody who might have had open lesions, towels, bed sheets the same sort of things. So, we’re talking, you know, something that really requires extremely close contact,” Vail said.

According to county health officials, monkeypox may begin with flu-like symptoms, such as headache, fever, muscle aches, and exhaustion, along with swelling of the lymph nodes, followed by a rash and lesions one to three days after the onset of illness. Monkeypox is contagious when a rash is present and up until scabs have fallen off. Symptoms generally appear up to three weeks after exposure, and the rash often lasts two to four weeks.

Vail said the community shouldn’t panic as monkeypox is not a new virus and vaccines are available, though in limited supply. There are currently no vaccines specifically for monkeypox, but the smallpox vaccine is being used as treatment because the viruses are genetically similar.

"Right now the priority is people who have known exposure, so what we call post-exposure prophylaxis, so you've been exposed. It has a fairly long incubation period, you get vaccinated after a known exposure which often times then prevents the monkeypox from occurring," she said.

Vail adds this depends on how long someone has been exposed to the virus.

County health officials stress that anyone can contract and spread the virus, but that early data from this outbreak suggest that men who have sex with men make up a high number of initial cases.

Vail said individuals who may have been exposed, or are concerned should reach out to their health care provider to be evaluated for testing.

More information on monkeypox can be found at CDC.gov/monkeypox or Michigan.gov/MVP.

Melorie Begay is the local producer and host of Morning Edition.
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