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Idaho health officials report states first ‘probable’ case of monkeypox

Europe Monkeypox
Posted at 1:59 PM, Jul 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-06 18:07:08-04

The first probable case of monkeypox has been reported in Idaho, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

Officials say the patient lives in the Central District health area and is recovering.

The investigation is currently ongoing but officials say it appears the patient was infected after traveling to a country experiencing a monkeypox outbreak.

Testing samples are being sent to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation.

Monkeypox disease is caused by the monkeypox virus, which is usually found in several countries in Africa. An international outbreak was first reported in May 2022, with most of the cases likely from the virus spreading between people.

As of July 5, over 6,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported outside of Africa, including 560 cases in the United States. None of the people identified with monkeypox in the United States have died.

“This is a virus that does not naturally occur in the United States,” said Victoria O’Dell, staff epidemiologist with Central District Health. “The cases we have seen in the U.S. and the one possible case in Idaho have been associated with international travel or importing animals from areas where the disease is more common.”

Related: Biden administration orders 2.5 million monkeypox vaccines

Monkeypox is contagious and spreads between people primarily through direct contact with infectious sores, scabs, or body fluids. It can also spread through respiratory droplets during prolonged, face-to-face contact.

Some people will have flu-like symptoms — such as a fever, body aches, and chills — and may have swollen lymph nodes in the days before a rash appears.
The rash may start on any body part as small, red spots. They can become firm and circular with a defined border, and may become pus-filled with an indentation in the middle.

Someone with monkeypox is contagious from the time their symptoms begin until all lesions have healed and fresh skin has formed.

“We are reminding people to look out for new spots, ulcers, or blisters on any part of their body,” Dr. Christine Hahn, public health medical director and state epidemiologist, said in a statement. “If anyone suspects they might have monkeypox, particularly if they have recently had a new sexual partner, they should limit their contact with others and contact their healthcare provider as soon as possible--although please phone ahead before going in person.”

Hahn said in a statement to Idaho News 6 no monkeypox vaccine has been ordered in Idaho.

"People should be aware that there are cases of monkeypox in the U.S. and that they could be exposed," Hahn said. "If people develop a rash, they should call their healthcare provider. There are treatments available for those people with serious disease or at risk of complications. There is also a vaccine for people who are exposed."

Related: Monkeypox vaccines becoming available for high-risk individuals

People who may be at higher risk of monkeypox include anyone who has had contact with someone with a rash that looks like monkeypox, had skin-to-skin contact with someone in an environment with monkeypox activity, traveled outside the U.S. to a country with confirmed cases of monkeypox, had contact with a dead or live animal that is found in Africa, or has used a product derived from such animals.

Some of the ways you can help prevent infection with the monkeypox virus include:

  • Wash your hands, especially after contact with possibly infected people (or animals) and contact with materials like bedding that have touched any lesions.
  • Limit direct contact with anyone who has a new rash.
  • Stay home except for medical appointments if you have a new rash.
  • Isolate from household members and pets if you have a new rash.
  • Wear personal protective equipment if caring for someone with monkeypox.
  • Avoid contact with animals or animal products from central and west Africa. No animals in the United States are known to have been infected with the monkeypox virus in this outbreak.