Monkeypox cases spreading, including in U.S. with 3 in Kentucky

Published 1:37 pm Thursday, July 14, 2022

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By Tom Latek

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says health officials are continuing to track an outbreak of monkeypox that has spread across several countries that don’t normally report monkeypox, including the United States.

Through July 12, there have been 929 cases reported across 50 states, compared with 306 cases in 27 states, just two weeks ago, on June 29. On that date, Kentucky had just one case, but that number has now risen to three. All three Kentucky cases have been reported in Jefferson County, according to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

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Among Kentucky’s neighboring states, Illinois has reported 121 cases, Virginia 25, Indiana 10, Ohio and Missouri 4 apiece, Tennessee 3, and West Virginia 1.

Worldwide, there have been 10,611 cases in 65 countries, with 10,388 of them in 59 countries that do not normally see monkeypox.

According to the CDC, symptoms of monkeypox can include fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion, and a rash on various parts of the body that can go through different stages before healing completely. The rash goes through different stages before healing completely.

The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks. Sometimes, people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.

It’s not clear how the people were exposed to monkeypox, but according to the CDC, early data suggest that gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men make up a high number of cases. However, anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk.

The CDC says monkeypox, although rare, is no stranger to the U.S.  In 2021, one case was reported in Maryland and another in Texas. Both were found in people who had recently returned from Nigeria.

The largest outbreak in the U.S. until now, was in 2003, when 47 confirmed and probable cases were reported in six states: Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin.  Every person infected with monkeypox in that outbreak became ill after having contact with pet prairie dogs.  The prairie dogs were infected after being housed near imported small mammals from Ghana.  This was the first time that human monkeypox was reported outside of Africa.