Monkeypox Cases Up to 12 in Connecticut: DPH

NBC News

The state Department of Public Health said Friday that there are now 12 cases of monkeypox in Connecticut, up from 11 on Thursday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported nine confirmed cases in the state as of Wednesday.

The state's first monkeypox case was reported just over a week ago. A New Haven County man in his 40s marked the first case in Connecticut.

All 11 patients we knew of on Thursday are between the ages of 20 and 50 and live in Fairfield, New Haven, and Hartford counties, according to DPH. The majority of them have not been hospitalized, the agency said.

“What we need to do right now is to have a high degree of suspicion about monkeypox,” said Dr. Marwan Haddad, medical director of the Center for Key Populations at Community Health Center, Inc.

While COVID-19 has become our baseline of sorts for understanding diseases, Dr. Haddad wants us to understand monkeypox spreads differently.

“Monkeypox is more difficult to transmit and is not as transmissible as COVID is, for instance.”

Haddad said we need more vaccines.

“We have the preferred vaccine, which is the Jynneos vaccine. There is a limited supply currently and so it is being made available to the higher risk individuals,” he said.

But he says this is no reason to panic.

“So far all the all the infections we've seen have been mild it is the strain of monkeypox that is milder that comes out of Western Africa, rather than the more severe monkeypox strains that we see from Central Africa.”

There are no cases reported in Middletown yet, but like many health directors, the city’s health director is waiting for a call.

“This reminds me of early COVID, not saying that we’re going to get to that level, but we’re taking the same approach of dealing with, preparing for the monkeypox case,” said Middletown Director of Health Kevin Elak.

Elak reached out to local emergency response officials Thursday to educate them about how to respond to calls, what to expect, and to ease any concerns they may have.

“We feel better prepared because of what we went through with COVID, so we're really taking that same blueprint from that response,” Elak said.

Elak says they have PPE stockpiled from the pandemic.

As of Wednesday, the U.S. had a total of 1,052 cases of monkeypox and that number continues to rise. Worldwide, that number is over 11,000.

Monkeypox doesn’t spread as easily as COVID; it’s much more easier to identify close contacts and vaccinate them

Starting Wednesday, Quest Diagnostics started testing for monkeypox in locations across the U.S., including here in Connecticut.

The PCR test uses patient swab specimens to detect the presence of the virus, according to the CDC.

Here's what to know:

What Are The Symptoms of Monkeypox?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes monkeypox as a rare disease caused by an infection with the monkeypox virus.

Symptoms of monkeypox can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • A rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appear inside the mouth or on other parts of the body including the hands, feet, chest, etc.

How Is Monkeypox Transmitted?

Monkeypox spreads in different ways, according to the CDC. They said virus can spread from person-to-person through:

  • Direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids
  • Respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex
  • Touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids
  • Pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta
  • It’s also possible for people to get monkeypox from infected animals, either by being scratched or bitten by the animal or by preparing or eating meat or using products from an infected animal.
  • Monkeypox can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts two to four weeks. People who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others. At this time, it is not known if monkeypox can spread through semen or vaginal fluids.
Symptoms take 7-14 days to show, but can take up to 21 days to show

What Does Monkeypox Look Like?

  • A rash that can look like pimples or blisters.
  • It can be on the face, hands, feet, chest, genitals or anus.
  • It can also be inside the mouth.
  • The rash goes through different stages before healing completely.
  • Sometimes, people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.

How Did Monkeypox Start?

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus.

The virus was discovered in 1958 when there were two outbreaks of a pox-like disease in colonies of monkeys kept for research, but the source of the disease is unknown, according to the CDC. However, they said, African rodents and non-human primates -- like monkeys -- might harbor the virus and infect people.

In 1970, the first human case of monkeypox was recorded.

Before the 2022 outbreak, nearly all monkeypox cases in people outside of Africa were linked to international travel to countries where the disease commonly occurs, or through imported animals, according to the CDC.

Is Monkeypox Dangerous or Fatal?

The CDC said infections with the strain of monkeypox virus identified in this outbreak—the West African strain—are rarely fatal.

More than 99% of people who get this form of the disease are likely to survive, but people with weakened immune systems, children under 8 years old people with a history of eczema, and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding might be more likely to get seriously ill or die, according to the CDC.

Symptoms can be extremely painful and people might have permanent scarring from the rash.

Monkeypox is a rare virus first discovered in 1958.

Prevention of Monkeypox

The CDC recommends you take the following steps to prevent getting monkeypox:

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with the monkeypox rash.
  • Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.
  • Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
  • Do not share eating utensils or cups.
  • Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a sick person.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after contact with sick people.
  • In Central and West Africa, avoid contact with animals that can spread the monkeypox virus, usually rodents and primates. Also, avoid sick or dead animals, as well as bedding or other materials they have touched.

What To Do If You Have Monkeypox Symptoms

  • See a healthcare provider if you have a new or unexplained rash or other monkeypox symptoms.
  • Remind the healthcare provider that monkeypox is circulating.
  • Avoid close contact, including intimate physical contact, with others until a healthcare provider examines you.
  • Avoid close contact with pets or other animals until a healthcare provider examines you.
  • If you’re waiting for test results, follow the same precautions.
  • If your test is positive, stay isolated until your rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed.
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