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2 cases of Monkeypox in Missouri; health department says risk to public is low

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The Springfield-Greene County Health Department is asking people to watch for symptoms.

There have been two confirmed cases of monkeypox in Missouri and a total of 351 in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Monkeypox is a rare disease first discovered in 1958, with the first human case recorded in 1970. It's an orthopox virus related to smallpox but with milder symptoms and is commonly found in west and central Africa, said Capt. Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the CDC’s Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology. McQuiston is also the incident manager for the CDC’s monkeypox investigation.

Prior to this year’s outbreak, nearly all monkeypox cases in people outside Africa were linked to those who had traveled to countries where the disease commonly occurs, or those who had acquired it through imported animals, according to the CDC.

There have been no deaths associated with the current outbreak, said McQuiston, but death can occur in those who are immunocompromised.

Springfield-Greene County Health Department officials said monkeypox poses a low risk to the public. Those who get it usually have mild symptoms, and most people recover at home. The virus doesn’t spread easily between people without close, prolonged contact.

Symptoms include a blistering rash, fever, headache, muscle and back aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.

The incubation period for monkeypox is typically five to 14 days, but can range from four to 21 days with the latest outbreak, said McQuiston.

She said monkeypox blisters can be very painful and cause scarring, and the illness can be transmitted until scabs fall off—which can take up to a month.

If you experience symptoms, contact your healthcare provider.

The health department said those with symptoms should not walk into clinics, urgent care or the emergency room unless they are in need of immediate medical care. That will help prevent further exposures from occurring.

Antivirals are used to treat monkeypox, said McQuiston, and can be given to infants who weigh at least 6.6 pounds.

There are vaccines available for those at high risk for catching the disease.

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department has created a webpage to inform people about monkeypox.