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Health officials report first presumptive monkeypox case in Minnesota

WCCO Digital Update: Morning of June 27, 2022
WCCO Digital Update: Morning of June 27, 2022 01:30

MINNEAPOLIS -- Health officials in Minnesota have reported the first presumptive case of monkeypox in the state.

The Minnesota Department of Health said the presumptive case was detected in an adult in the Twin Cities area who likely caught the virus while traveling abroad.

The infected person is receiving outpatient care, and the health department is conducting contact tracing. Officials don't believe he's spread the disease to anyone else.

"We don't think there are high-risk contacts in Minnesota," state epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield said.

The disease originated in Africa and since the beginning of May, more than 4,000 cases have been reported in 47 countries around the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, monkeypox has been recently detected "in several countries that don't normally report monkeypox, including the United States." Cases have been found in 26 states besides Minnesota in connection with the latest outbreak.

MDH officials said the virus "does not easily spread between people with casual contact, but transmission can occur through contact with infectious sores and body fluids; contaminated items, such as clothing or bedding; or through respiratory droplets associated with prolonged face-to-face contact."

Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, head and muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes and a rash that looks like pimples or blisters. It's also possible to contract the virus and show no symptoms.

According to the health department, most people recover from the virus in two to four weeks with no treatment, but in rare cases, monkeypox can be fatal. However, Dr. Richard Kennedy with the Mayo Clinic says the mortality rate for the disease is comparatively low.

"It's mutated a little bit from the strain that came out of Africa. That strain was associated with less than 1% mortality rate. So a very low rate and that's probably an overestimate," Kennedy said.

Kennedy says most people recover on their own in about three to four weeks, but they are contagious until the rash is fully healed and new skin appears. Health experts say there is a vaccine but it's not recommended for general use because the risk remains low. 

"I would say for most of the people in Minnesota, the risk right now is really low," Kennedy said.

The Department of Health wants to remind people that anyone can contract the disease. It's not subject to a particular group of individuals.

Despite its name, health experts say monkeypox is spread more by rodents than primates.

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