Monkeypox has now spread to almost every state in the country. On Wednesday, the North Dakota Department of Health identified its first case involving someone who traveled out of state.
New York has the highest number of cases with 900, while California follows with 356 cases.
Minnesota ranks in the middle of 44 states reporting cases. Over the past month, the number of people with monkeypox has risen from one case to 19 cases statewide.
“We have seen over the past two weeks the increase in cases,” said Dr Beth Thielen, infectious disease physician for M Health Fairview. She is also an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Medical School. “I think right now we’re in a catch-up phase of diagnosing some of the cases that might have been there.”
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began shipping tests to commercial labs last month to increase capacity, including Mayo Clinic labs. The Rochester-based lab began offering tests on July 11.
“Sometimes the rash can take a while to progress, and we’ve seen some people not develop a fever initially and present without a fever,” Thielen said.
According to the CDC, symptoms can include fever, muscle pain, headache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion. The rash that develops may appear as pimples or blisters.
“It may seem quite benign at first, but if there were signs of new rashes, that would be a good reason for people to seek medical attention and avoid contact with others,” Thielen said.
The CDC recommends that people who have been exposed to monkeypox or who are at high risk of exposure get vaccinated. The US Department of Health and Human Services has distributed nearly 200,000 vaccines, the agency reported Thursday.
Thielen told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that access to vaccines is quite limited, but she hopes that will improve over the summer and fall.
The Jynneos vaccine is not commercially available and not generally stocked by health care providers, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. The state agency sends vaccines to providers and public health agencies with a focus on the metro where there are more cases.
According to the CDC, the virus can be spread by contact with an infected person’s rash, scabs, or body fluids, by touching contaminated objects such as sheets or clothing, or by breathing when an infected person coughs or sneezes for a long time. period of time or during intimate physical contact.
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“I think the biggest thing is the risk factors of sexual partners, having multiple partners,” Thielen said. “I don’t think casual contact in public is a major risk factor for most people.”
The CDC has, however, put in place a level 2 travel advisory due to the spread of monkeypox in several countries. Thielen said it might be worth taking extra precautions this summer.
“I think the time is right for people to really personally examine their comfort with this risk and to think about bringing back some of these precautions like tight-fitting masks, not only or entirely because of monkeypox, but also because we are seeing a lot of circulation of a respiratory virus, COVID disease is also very high now,” Thielen said. “Be sure to wash your hands regularly when touching public surfaces, people should stay home if they are sick and not travel and risk exposing others, these are generally good principles for staying good during the travel season.”
She added that travelers don’t necessarily need to wear long sleeves or cover up while in transit.
“In general, the risks to intact skin and arms are relatively low,” Thielen said. “Eyes, nose, mouth like that – those are much more common places for infection. Certainly, if people have open wounds, cuts or scrapes, covering them with bandages not only to prevent infection from getting out but infection from getting in, these are generally good safety precautions.
On Friday, the CDC announced that two children have now tested positive for monkeypox in the United States. One case involves a toddler in California, while the other is a non-US resident.
Thielen told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that children are considered a high-risk group, so parents should take their child to see a doctor to be tested if they are concerned about possible infection. Testing is crucial, she said, because other more common illnesses can cause rashes in children.
She said there is a treatment for monkeypox, known as TPOXX, which is available for children and adults. The Jynneos vaccine is only approved for people who are at least 18 years old.