Has rare monkeypox spread to Florida? Health officials investigate in Broward County

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A person has been isolated after a presumptive case of monkeypox was diagnosed, the Florida Department of Health in Broward County announced Sunday afternoon.

Jeremy Redfern, a Florida Department of Health spokesman at the state level, said the specimen taken from the person will be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation and this is the only presumed positive case in the state.

“This case is related to international travel, and the person remains isolated,” the Health Department in Broward said. “At this time, DOH-Broward has not identified any additional cases.”

But the department is investigating, along with the CDC to find and notify other people who might’ve been exposed.

“Human-to-human transmission generally requires prolonged, face-to-face contact, direct contact with lesion materials, or indirect contact with lesion materials through contaminated items, such as contaminated clothing,” the department said. “Therefore, the risk of exposure remains low.”

Friday’s CDC health advisory

That said, there have been clumps of monkeypox cases around the world recently. Wednesday, a person in Massachusetts was confirmed to have monkeypox. Friday, the CDC issued a health advisory.

“Since May 14, 2022, clusters of monkeypox cases, have been reported in several countries that don’t normally have monkeypox,” the advisory stated. “Although previous cases outside of Africa have been associated with travel from Nigeria, most of the recent cases do not have direct travel-associated exposure risks.”

The advisory asked medical professionals to pay special attention for “firm, well circumscribed, deep-seated, and umbilicated lesions” indicative of monkeypox.

“Some recent cases have begun with characteristic, monkeypox-like lesions in the genital and (anal) region, in the absence of subjective fever and other prodromal symptoms,” the CDC said. “For this reason, cases may be confused with more commonly seen infections (e.g., syphilis, chancroid, herpes, and varicella zoster).

“The average incubation period for symptom onset is 5–13 days.”

The CDC says go to your medical professional for a risk assessment if you:

Have been to countries where monkeypox cases have been reported

Have had contact with a person who has a similar rash or has been confirmed as having or suspected of having monkeypox

Are a man who has had “close or intimate in-person contact with other men in the past month, including through an online website, app or at a bar or party”

There is no vaccine for monkeypox. The Florida Department of Health says the smallpox vaccine should provide cross protection, but routine vaccination against smallpox hasn’t happened since the early 1970s, after smallpox was all but eliminated.

Herald staff writer Omar Rodriguez Ortiz supplied information for this story.