First monkeypox case identified in a North Carolina resident

23 June 2022

— The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday said that a case of the viral infection monkeypox has been identified in a North Carolina resident.

The state department of health said it is working closely with the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention to help notify other people who may have been in contact with the person while they were infectious.

State health officials did not say where in North Carolina the case was found. According to a release from Atrium Health, the patient is not in the Charlotte area. The patient is currently isolating at home, according to DHHS.

“Though this is the first confirmed case in North Carolina, we know there are likely other cases in the state,” said Dr. Zack Moore, State Epidemiologist and Epidemiology Section Chief, in a press release. “We are encouraging doctors to consider this in people who have a rash or skin lesion that looks like monkeypox.”

Worldwide since May 2022, more than 3,000 cases of the virus have been identified. 156 cases have been detected in the United States.

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare but potentially serious, viral illness that typically involves flu-like symptoms, swelling of the lymph nodes and a rash that includes bumps that are initially filled with fluid before scabbing over.

Although the disease is called “monkeypox,” its source is unknown. Scientists believe rodents and primates may be able to pass it to people.

How is monkeypox transmitted?

The virus does not spread easily, and can only spread between people who’ve had close contact, according to the CDC.

The most common means of spread, according to the CDC, is when people come into contact with the rash, scabs or bodily fluids of someone who has monkeypox. Monkeypox can spread through the air, but only to those very close by, with face-to-face contact like kissing or snuggling.

“If you do have a fluid that contaminates something, like a bed, then it is possible to become infected from contact with that material on the linens,” said Dr. Erica Wilson, the medical director of vaccine prevntable and respiratory diseases with the state Department of Health and Human Services.

“You don’t see monkeypox cases erupt commonly among household whereas we saw that all the time with COVID,” said Dr. Cameron Wolfe, an infectious disease specialist at Duke University.

“You don’t see people sitting around a meal place with their coworkers getting monkeypox from each others, whereas they all got COVID from each other.”

People can contract monkeypox by touching items that come in contact with the rash of others, such as clothing.

Only those with active monkeypox symptoms can spread the infection to others. The time between exposure and when symptoms start can be several days. This makes contact tracing effective in slowing the spread of monkeypox.

How is monkeypox treated?

There is no treatment specific to monkeypox, but because it is a virus, antiviral medications are often given to treat infections and to prevent them in people who may be exposed to the virus.

There is a vaccine to prevent monkeypox, but it is not used widely in the United States because historically the number of cases in the country has not been significant.

Those who have been exposed to monkeypox or who work in labs where it is present are more likely to be offered the vaccine.

Can my pet get monkeypox?

Monkeypox virus can be transmitted between people and animals, but the CDC does not believe that it poses a high risk to pets.

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