Wisconsin’s first case of monkeypox found in Dane Co.
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Wisconsin’s first case of monkeypox amid a recent outbreak across the nation has been confirmed. The Department of Health Services indicated Friday the virus was found in a Dane County resident, who is now isolating.
DHS’ Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ryan Westergaard added that, with cases rising across the country, he wasn’t surprised when it reached Wisconsin. The agency assured state residents that the risk of infection among the general public remains low, noting that 396 cases have been detected so far across the U.S.
“While it’s likely that additional cases will be found among Wisconsinites, we are relieved that this disease does not spread easily from person to person,” he explained. Westergaard also urged those in medical fields to watch out for patients with rashes similar to those associated with the virus.
According to DHS, monkeypox is rare, but can be serious. People who contracted the virus are most likely to see new, unexplained rashes. They may also contract a fever, experience chills, or swollen lymph nodes.
Most of them will recover in two to four weeks without treatment.
In its statement, DHS emphasized that monkeypox does not spread easily and said it most likely occurs through respiratory droplets, sustained skin-to-skin contact, or contact with contaminated items. Westergaard said during a news conference Friday that despite its lower transmission rate, it is still important to be aware of so that people don’t miss it if they have it.
“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,” he said.
When asked why the monkeypox was spreading now, Westergaard cited a hypothesis from experts that prior generations had herd immunity to this type of virus because they were vaccinated against smallpox. Now that this vaccine is not given to the general population, he said this plus international travel could be likely for the increased spread.
Westergaard noted that there are two vaccines available for the treatment of monkeypox- the smallpox vaccine and JYNNEOS vaccine. The smallpox vaccine has been around for a long time, but is not in wide use anymore now that the disease has been widely contained. JYNNEOS is a newer live virus vaccine that can also be used.
Westergaard said that state health departments have been using vaccines, mainly the JYNNEOS one, to treat those who may have been exposed to monkeypox or for laboratory workers prior to exposure.
In 2003, another outbreak of the monkeypox swept through Wisconsin and the nation. Westergaard noted that this outbreak was tied to people who had contact with wild or exotic animals, specifically prairie dogs in Wisconsin.
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