1st case of monkeypox in Wisconsin identified in Dane County resident

NOW: 1st case of monkeypox in Wisconsin identified in Dane County resident

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DANE COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) identified the first confirmed case of orthopoxvirus, presumed to be monkeypox, in a resident of Dane County Thursday, June 30.

The Dane County adult that contracted monkeypox is currently isolating at home.

The Department of Health Services is not sharing much information about the case in order to preserve patient privacy, but they did say there is not a large-scale threat to public health right now.

Dr. Ryan Westergaard, the Chief Medical Officer and State Epidemiologist, said, "It's important because we have an opportunity to prevent it from spreading widely, but we're only going to do that if people think to test for it."

On a public health call Friday, Dr. Westergaard said the risk of spread is low. Experts do not believe it will rise to a pandemic level, but they say awareness is key.

Dr. Westergaard said, "We have to be very vigilant to diagnose cases and treat them and get them out of contact with others to prevent them from becoming large-scale epidemics."

The monkeypox virus is transmitted through close contact, like skin-to-skin or sexual contact.

It's been around for years before this outbreak, and effective vaccines are available to help stop the spread in people who have been exposed.

There are now about 400 total cases in the united states, and no fatalities so far. The CDC says a significant number of cases are happening among gay and bisexual men.

Dr. Westergaard said, "But we also want to make sure that people understand this is not a disease that affects only people who identify as LGBTQ. Anyone can get it."

People have died from it elsewhere in the world but most cases are manageable, with some lesions, red skin, or small lumps. And it usually doesn't last long.

Dr. Westergaard said, "For the most part this is a self-limited, meaning it goes away on its own, after a week or two."

Right now the medical community is focused on catching as many cases as possible. Dr. Westergaard said, "We have to be very vigilant to diagnose cases and treat them and get them out of contact with others to prevent them from becoming large scale epidemics."

Dr. Westergaard says we are much better prepared for monkeypox than we were for the coronavirus.

The biggest difference, he said, is if someone is exposed they can immediately offer a vaccine to possibly prevent the spread.

To prevent the spread of monkeypox, DHS encourages all Wisconsinites to be aware of the following:

  • Know the symptoms and risk factors of monkeypox.
  • Avoid skin-to-skin contact with people who are showing a rash or skin sores. Don’t touch the rash or scabs, and don’t kiss, hug, cuddle, have sex, or share items such as eating utensils or bedding with someone with monkeypox.
  • In jurisdictions with known monkeypox spread, participating in activities with close, personal, skin-to-skin contact may pose a higher risk of exposure.
  • If you were recently exposed to the virus, contact a doctor or nurse to talk about whether you need a vaccine to prevent disease. Monitor your health for fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes and a new, unexplained rash, and contact a health care provider if any of those occur. If you become ill, avoid contact with others until you receive health care.

The DHS Outbreaks in Wisconsin webpage will be updated with the latest case counts of monkeypox.

For free, confidential support finding health care and community resources near you, dial 211 or 877-947-2211, or text your ZIP code to 898-211. Find resources online at 211Wisconsin.org.

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