Douglas County reports first case of monkeypox

Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 12:10 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Douglas County likely has its first case of monkeypox.

The Douglas County Health Department said Monday that it has confirmed a case of orthopox virus, the virus family containing monkeypox.

“With further testing underway, it is anticipated this will be the county’s first case of monkeypox,” DCHD said in its release Monday.

That person, a man in his 30s with a history of international travel, is isolating at home, county health officials said. A contact investigation is also underway to inform other people who may have been exposed.

“We want to stress that the virus does not easily spread through casual contact,” said Justin Frederick, the county’s supervisor of infectious disease and epidemiology. “Still, transmission can occur through contact with infectious sores on the body, and body fluids, contaminated items such as clothing or bedding, or respiratory droplets associated with prolonged face-to-face contact.”

Dr. Kelly Cockett, infection control medical director at Nebraska Medicine, was on call when this case was reported.

“When we did a very deep dive review of the clinic scenario, the patient’s exposures and all the healthcare workers, we do not believe there was any significant risk to any other patients or healthcare workers that saw or may have come in contact with this patient,” she said Monday.

Recent outbreaks of monkeypox have been identified in nearly 50 countries, but the World Health Organization says it does not warrant being declared a global health emergency.

Monkeypox is in the same family as smallpox. It is transmissible between humans and from animals to humans. The virus is transmitted to a human through broken skin, the eyes, nose or mouth. Human symptoms of monkeypox are similar, but milder than smallpox symptoms.

According to DCHD, monkeypox symptoms typically begin with a fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes and exhaustion. A rash that looks like blisters is also possible. The incubation period — the time between contraction and when symptoms set in — can range from five days to three weeks.

No specific treatment for monkeypox exists, but antivirals have been used effectively to treat it. A smallpox vaccine can also be used for cautionary treatment in some cases for people who have been in contact with an infected person.

Have questions?

DCHD says anyone who suspects they have monkeypox or have been exposed to it should contact their healthcare provider. A health department information line can also be reached at 402-444-3400 for questions.

“Douglas County will contact potential exposed persons,” said Frederick said. “There is no specific treatment for monkeypox; however monkeypox and smallpox are similar so antiviral drugs and vaccines developed for smallpox may be used to prevent and treat monkeypox infections.”

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