Olmsted County monkeypox case came from out of state

Aug. 26—ROCHESTER — Monkeypox has made its way to Olmsted County. Fortunately, the one confirmed case of the virus seems to be isolated at this time.

Olmsted County Public Health officials on Friday, Aug. 26, 2022, confirmed that an individual in the county has been diagnosed with monkeypox. The diagnosis was confirmed by the Minnesota Department of Health.

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus. The monkeypox virus usually affects rodents, such as rats or mice, or nonhuman primates. But it can occur in people.

Symptoms can include fever, headache, sore throat, swollen glands, fatigue, and is usually accompanied by a raised pox lesion. A person with monkeypox is considered contagious until the lesions have scabbed over, said Olmsted County epidemiologist Matthew Giljork.

The infected individual in Olmsted County has been isolated, and will remain in isolation until that person is no longer contagious, Giljork said.

Denise Daniels, director Olmsted County Public Health, said the infection of the individual became known to the department on Monday, Aug. 22, 2022. At that time, the county public health department and MDH conducted contract tracing for that individual, notifying people who had been in close contact with the infected person. Those individuals were asked to monitor and watch for symptoms.

"They are isolated at home and so far doing well," Daniels said.

She added that the infected individual had recently returned from travel outside Minnesota.

Daniels said people can avoid monkeypox by practicing good hygiene such as washing hands, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, minimizing skin-to-skin contact and avoiding contact with materials used by an infected person such as bedding.

If anyone believes they have contracted the monkeypox virus, they should reach out to a health care provider, Daniels said.

Daniels added that the virus does not spread easily with casual contact, so it is unlikely to cause concerns for students returning to school in the coming weeks. Furthermore, while a vaccine does exist, there is no plan for widespread vaccinations such as occurred with the COVID-19 pandemic. A health care provider would assess individual risk to determine if a vaccination was needed.

The earliest confirmed cases of monkeypox in the latest U.S. outbreak occurred in Texas and Maryland in July and November of last year. Both cases involved travelers who were returning to the U.S. from Nigeria.

Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal, according to the CDC. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.

Giljork said, "To the best of my knowledge there have been no reported deaths in the United States." He said one death due to monkeypox has been reported in Spain.

Despite the low death rate, Giljork said monkeypox can cause some disability, and the lesions can lead to long-term scarring.

Daniels added that declaring monkeypox a public heath emergency declaration helps gets funding, resources to address the virus outbreak.

There have been 16,926 cases have been diagnosed in the U.S. as of Aug. 22, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of Thursay, Aug. 25, 108 cases of monkeypox have been diagnosed in Minnesota with the majority concentrated in Hennepin County with 79 cases.