A recent press release from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) states a case of orthopoxvirus assumed to be monkeypox was confirmed in a Milwaukee County resident on July 9, who is currently in isolation. This is the second confirmed case in Wisconsin and one of 767 reported cases in the country. While the number of monkeypox cases continues to rise in the United States, the overall risk to the general public remains low.
“DHS continues to work closely with federal, state, and local partners to monitor the current outbreak of monkeypox in the United States and here in Wisconsin,” said DHS Secretary-Designee Karen Timberlake in a statement. “We want the public to know that the risk of widespread transmission remains low. Current evidence from around the country shows that the virus is spreading mostly through close, intimate contact with someone who has monkeypox. We urge all Wisconsinites to stay vigilant and contact a doctor if you develop a new or unexplained rash.”
This rare, but potentially deadly disease, is caused by the monkeypox virus and is characterized by an unexplained rash and skin lesions that can typically be found in the genital groin and anal regions, and is often confused with other common diseases, such as herpes and syphilis. Other early symptoms include fever, chills, and swollen lymph nodes.
According to the DHS, most people with monkeypox recover in two to four weeks without needing treatment, however, vaccinations and antiviral medications can prevent and treat it. Studies have also suggested that the smallpox vaccine received decades ago may provide protection from infection or decrease the severity of the disease. People who have been exposed to someone with monkeypox or someone with a probable diagnosis should talk with a doctor or nurse to learn if they are eligible to receive a vaccine.
Monkeypox does not spread easily from person to person as the virus is transmitted through respiratory droplets, sustained skin-to-skin contact, and contact with items that have been contaminated with the fluids or sores of a person with monkeypox. While the DHS is working with federal and local partners to identify people who have been in contact with both patients in Wisconsin they encourage Wisconsinites to be aware of the following:
- Know the symptoms and risk factors of monkeypox. Anyone with a rash that looks like monkeypox should talk to a doctor or nurse about whether they need to get tested, even if they don’t think they had contact with someone who has 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.
DHS also urges all clinicians to remain alert to patients with compatible rashes and encourage them to test for monkeypox. Anyone can develop and spread this disease. For free, confidential support finding healthcare 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.