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First monkeypox case reported in Pittsburgh

Person receiving care in Pittsburgh tests positive for monkeypox
Person receiving care in Pittsburgh tests positive for monkeypox 03:08

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - A person tested positive for the monkeypox virus in Pittsburgh for the first time during the latest outbreak.

According to the CDC, there are around 350 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the U.S., eight of which are in Pennsylvania. According to the Pennsylvania Health Department, a southwestern Pennsylvania resident who was receiving care in Pittsburgh tested positive for monkeypox. The seven other cases are in Philadelphia.

The Allegheny County Health Department said that no Allegheny County residents have tested positive for monkeypox. 

Dr. Stacy Lane, the founder of Central Outreach Wellness Center, said the state health department confirmed one of the wellness center's patients tested positive on Tuesday.

"The real concern is that it can be disfiguring and scarring and it does have some mortality, it's minimal," said Dr. Lane.

Dr. Lane said the virus is often transmitted by skin-to-skin, including sexual contact. She said many cases have been among gay and bisexual men.

"A lot of this transmission is happening in the gay men's population but also on dance floors, rave parties, things like that. It's a lot of skin-to-skin contact so anywhere people are dancing bumping into each other," she said.

Central Outreach has several locations in Pennsylvania. Right now, Central Outreach's location on the North Shore has access to the treatment and vaccine, which were developed to protect against smallpox and may be used to prevent and treat monkeypox. Dr. Lane said the vaccine is 85 percent effective in preventing the monkeypox virus. As for the treatment, she said it's very new and is used on a case-by-case basis, typically severe ones.

"For those who were exposed, there is a vaccine to prevent this now. Time's of the essence, you have to get the vaccine quickly, it can prevent the illness if people get vaccinated within four days of exposure," Dr. Lane said.

The Biden administration announced Tuesday plans to offer more vaccines to protect people at higher risk of exposure.

The CDC recommends vaccines be provided to individuals with confirmed exposures and presumed exposures.

"It presents much like chickenpox where people get symptoms, of fever, chills, feeling bad for a few days, then end up getting big lymph nodes and a rash eventually forms. The rash is very characteristic; it can involve palms and soles of the hands and feet. It can involve genitals and anywhere on somebody's skin," Dr. Lane said.

She suggests people who may have been exposed should seek medical care with their local health department.

Lane said people who plan on going to parties, clubs or other places where people could bump into each other should wear long sleeves, pants and a mask.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health shared this message for the public with KDKA: 

"People should not panic when they hear about a confirmed case of monkeypox. The Monkeypox Virus has been identified in humans in the United States since 2003 and the likelihood of an individual contracting the virus is small as monkeypox is not easily transmitted from person to person. Additionally, the Monkeypox virus can spread when a person comes into contact with the virus from an infected animal, infected person or materials contaminated with the virus. Once a person is diagnosed with monkeypox, public health representatives conduct contact tracing to identify those potentially exposed and asks that they monitor their health for 21 days (i.e., the maximum incubation period for the disease). If they develop symptoms, we ask that they isolate immediately and contact public health officials. Since monkeypox is infectious when symptoms begin, isolating ill individuals as soon as they develop symptoms can help prevent further spread of the virus and thus help to contain its spread."

The Department of Health has created a fact sheet where people can obtain more information about the monkeypox virus.

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