Indiana and Missouri record first presumptive cases of monkeypox
Monkeypox continues to spread across the US as Indiana and Missouri register their first potential cases this weekend — and official numbers hit 111.
One case was discovered Saturday by health officials in Kansas City, Missouri, in which a resident who had recently traveled inland tested positive for the orthopox virus family, which includes monkeypox.
State health officials in Indiana also revealed they had discovered a possible case in an undisclosed part of the state.
Samples from both individuals will be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to confirm whether they are monkeypox infections, with results expected in the coming days.
The Midwest and Great Plains regions of the US had thus far been largely spared the rare tropical virus, with only Ohio and Illinois registering cases before the weekend. Although it is possible that the virus was circulating in the region before these two recent cases were recorded and simply weren’t picked up by surveillance.
In all, the US has confirmed 111 cases — none of the cases in Indiana and Missouri yet included in official numbers — with New York and California having the worst outbreaks with nearly two dozen infections each.
Just over 2,500 cases have been discovered worldwide, with the 574 being the most in the UK. No deaths have been linked to the recent outbreak of monkeypox in countries where it is not endemic.
Cases from Missouri and Indiana have not yet been added to the official CDC case numbers, as federal officials are working to confirm them. Over the weekend, the number of cases increased from 100 to 111
“This week one of our excellent nurses suspected that one of our patients had the monkeypox virus,” said Dr. Marvia Jones, director of the Kansas City health department.
“We consider this a likely case of monkeypox virus until we get final confirmation from the CDC labs.”
The case would be the first in the state of Missouri. Neighboring Illinois and Oklahoma have also recorded cases of monkey pox during this outbreak.
If the cases in Missouri and Indiana are confirmed, the number of infections in America would reach 113.
WHO investigates whether monkey pox can spread through sperm
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said it will investigate whether monkeypox can be transmitted through semen.
Currently, scientists say it can spread through sex as a result of physical contact with infectious skin lesions on the genital area or other parts of the body.
But this week, Italian scientists said they had discovered fragments of the virus in semen, raising the possibility that it could be transmitted through this route.
German scientists say they have also discovered the virus in semen.
A WHO official revealed on Wednesday that they were investigating the reports.
Catherine Smallwood, the agency’s monkeypox incident manager, said: “We really need to focus on the most common mode of transmission and we see that this is clearly associated with skin-to-skin contact.”
More than 2,000 cases have been discovered worldwide outside of West Africa, where it is endemic.
These are mainly gay and bisexual men.
But scientists warn that the rash-causing virus spreads through close personal contact, and it’s likely the disease could spread to other groups.
Officials in both states are also undergoing contact tracing measures to inform others who may have been exposed to the virus.
While the exact symptoms each infected person faces has not been revealed, the CDC warns that common symptoms include skin rashes, blisters on the hands, feet, arms, genitals and other parts of the body, muscle aches and fatigue.
The agency also warns that many may confuse the smallpox that occurs as part of the infection — the most obvious sign that someone has contracted the virus — for STDs such as syphilis.
Monkeypox usually spreads through body-to-body contact with the infectious lesions on a person’s body, although it can also be transmitted through sustained face-to-face contact.
Patients are expected to develop a fever within three weeks, followed by a rash that covers the face and then the rest of the body.
Last week, the CDC warned that many patients were not experiencing the typical symptoms.
The agency reports that many developed the rash before a fever, and some had no fever at all.
Rashes were recorded in the mouth and genital area or anus, which were not previously associated with the disease. The patterns of lesions that appeared around the body were also inconsistent.
Nearly all cases in the US are linked to international travel, either to an African country where the virus is endemic or to a European country that has experienced significant spread.
However, some cases are unrelated to travel, pointing to multiple examples of human-to-human transmission on U.S. soil.
Gay and bisexual men in particular have suffered the greatest burden of infections, with the virus presumably spreading through the sexual network.
Outbreaks have been linked to two sex raves in Belgium and Spain, and a recent Mr Leather fetish event in Chicago, Illinois is said to be central to another cluster of cases.
This has worried some that Pride parades in June will be sources of rampant monkeypox spreading. Doctors and community leaders are encouraging people to still attend these events, but to take precautions.
Henry said at the town hall about Monkeypox: ‘Going out at Pride, going to the shops, the restaurants, the bars – avoiding prolonged skin-to-skin contact should be safe.
‘The only other way to transmit monkeypox is through respiratory droplets, but that is rare.
“If you don’t touch someone, you should be inside without a mask for several hours – if not longer – to catch them.
“So you can go out at the Parade, don’t be afraid to go to pubs and bars, but watch out for the rash and see what’s on their bodies.”
He added: “Essentially, you don’t want prolonged skin-to-skin contact with someone who has that rash.
“For people who recreationally enjoy darkrooms or commercial sex clubs where you can’t see what’s on the person’s body, now is not the time to be there.”
Gorensek, an infectious disease specialist with the state’s Holy Cross Medical Group, warned people to “minimize” skin-to-skin contact.
“There would be less risk of going to concerts and gatherings — that’s not a high risk,” she said. ‘But with skin-to-skin contact you fall more into that category.