Salt Lake Co. Health Dept. announces two ‘probable’ monkeypox cases
SALT LAKE CITY — According to the Salt Lake County Health Department, two Salt Lake County adults from the same household are considered probable monkeypox cases based on preliminary testing.
Health officials said the two infected individuals became symptomatic after they traveled internationally to an area experiencing monkeypox cases earlier this month.
The state expects to receive confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday.
“Utah’s public health system has not identified any exposure risk to the public due to these probable cases,” officials said. “Exposure concern is limited to specifically identified people who had direct, close contact with the infected individuals during their infectious period. SLCoHD and the Utah Department of Health and Human Services are contacting those specifically identified close contacts; we expect to have reached all contacts by the end of the day (Monday).”
The two individuals were experiencing mild illness and were in isolation. Public health officials say they are unable to share additional information about the individuals due to medical privacy laws, but both are expected to fully recover.
“What’s unique about the outbreak is that it’s the first time monkeypox has spread outside of Africa,” Dunn said.
Monkeypox is a rare illness usually found in Central and West Africa, though health officials have recently identified several cases in Europe and North America.
The virus, a close relative of smallpox, is not known to spread easily among humans and transmission generally does not occur through casual contact.
Health officials say human-to-human transmission occurs primarily through direct contact with body fluids, including monkeypox lesions. Transmission might also occur through prolonged, close face-to-face contact. The time from someone becoming infected to showing symptoms of monkeypox is usually seven to 14 days but can range from five to 21 days. Infected people are not contagious before they show symptoms.
“The general public has no reason to worry,” Dunn said. “It’s just those who have traveled or have come into contact with people with rashes that should be on the lookout for symptoms. Symptoms are fairly obvious given the rash and you’re not infectious prior to symptoms so it’s easier to contain than say COVID.”
• There is no risk to the public — monkeypox is not known to spread easily among humans. Both individuals are in isolation and do not present a risk to the greater public.
• Infected individuals became symptomatic after international travel.
— Salt Lake Health (@SaltLakeHealth) May 23, 2022
“In humans, the symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion and swollen lymph nodes. Infected people develop a rash, often beginning on the face then spreading to other parts of the body, that turns into fluid-filled bumps (“pox”). These pox lesions eventually scab over and fall off. The illness typically lasts 2−4 weeks,” health officials said.
Currently, there is no proven, safe treatment for monkeypox, though the limited evidence available indicates that smallpox treatments may be useful. Most people recover with no treatment.
According to the Associated Press, a leading adviser to the World Health Organization described the unprecedented outbreak of monkeypox in developed countries as “a random event” that might be explained by sexual behavior at two recent raves in Europe.
Health officials say most of the known cases in Europe have been among men who have sex with men, but scientists say it will be difficult to disentangle whether the spread is being driven by sex itself or merely close contact. Anyone can be infected through close contact with a sick person — or their clothing or bedsheets.
“We’ve also noticed that it is spreading particularly among the gay — or men who have sex with men, MSM — community,” Dunn said, “and so those communities in particular should be aware of coming into contact with other people who have rashes and being on the lookout for those symptoms themselves.”
The CDC is also tracking multiple clusters of monkeypox that have been reported in early- to mid-May in several countries that don’t normally report monkeypox, including in Europe and North America.
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