July 19, 2022

Elkhart County reports first cases of monkeypox

Article origination WVPE 88.1 Elkhart/South Bend
Monkeypox virus particles obtained from a clinical sample associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. - Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regnery/CDC

Monkeypox virus particles obtained from a clinical sample associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak.

Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regnery/CDC

Elkhart County is reporting its first cases of monkeypox.

The virus presents as a blister-like rash and has been circulating in Indiana since late June. Other symptoms include fever, headache, chills and exhaustion.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are currently only 11 reported cases in the state — and health officials have said risk of transmission is low.

However, the CDC is urging healthcare providers to be alert for patients with rashes or symptoms consistent with the virus. The agency is also encouraging anyone with symptoms to speak with a healthcare provider, even if they don’t think they had contact with an infected person.

As of Tuesday, the Elkhart County Health Department is reporting one confirmed and one probable case of monkeypox.

Michigan reported its first case June 30 and currently has 14 reported cases, according to the CDC count.

The virus primarily spreads through close contact with an infected person, including:

  • direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids
  • respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex
  • touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids
  • pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta

The CDC says the illness typically lasts two to four weeks and can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed.

The monkeypox virus typically circulates in West Africa, but has been spreading this summer in countries that typically don’t report cases.

The Midwest saw a monkeypox outbreak in 2003 that originated in a shipment of animals from Ghana to Illinois. It spread to humans through pet dogs, with 47 people catching the virus. All appear to have recovered without further transmitting the virus.

Contact Gemma at gdicarlo@wvpe.org or follow her on Twitter at @gemma_dicarlo.

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