Examples of monkeypox rashes.

In Indiana, monkeypox virus a growing problem as cases increase

MUNCIE, Ind. — As of Thursday the number of cases of monkeypox in Indiana had reached 62 cases, up from 45 the previous Thursday, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Those figures included at least two pediatric cases.

The illness, largely spread by skin on skin contact, has been spreading in the United States since May 17, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention started their response to the outbreak in the U.S. The spread has been global, with Europe being the focus of the outbreak. The World Health Organization declared monkeypox a “global emergency” in late July.

Megan Wade-Taxter, a spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Health, said the agency doesn’t have the data about monkeypox broken down to the county level or region at this time. She had no information about the presence of the disease in East Central Indiana.

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By late July, Marion County was reporting 17 presumed cases of monkeypox there, The Indianapolis Star reported. Cases have been cropping up elsewhere around the state as well; the Tippecanoe County Health Department on July 28 announced that the county had three confirmed but “mild” cases of monkeypox, and just days before that St. Joseph County announced its first confirmed case.

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As of last week Indiana had received 3,232 doses of Jynneos vaccine used to combat monkeypox. Due to limited vaccine supply, vaccines initially are being prioritized for those who are close contacts with positive cases to prevent severe disease, according to the IDOH.

Additional vaccine is expected in the state soon, according to a IDOH statement. Eligibility for the vaccine will be expanded to groups at high risk for exposure as supplies increase.

Is monkeypox an STD?

Jammie Bane, administrator of the Delaware County Health Department, said monkeypox poses a general risk to the population.

“Our citizens need to be aware that anyone can contract monkeypox,” he stated in an email.  “This appears to be an equal opportunity virus spread primarily through direct contact. However, epidemiogical data seems to point to a smaller subset of our population having a more elevated risk so far in this outbreak. “

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Some 99.1% of total confirmed cases were male and 98.4% of these males reported male-to-male sexual contact, Bane said.

“Some patients report very mild symptoms, and because of this fail to protect others by avoiding contact,” he said. “Skin lesions tend to be the primary symptom people associate with monkeypox. These lesions can be obvious, but they can also appear benign like a number of other common rashes or skin conditions.”

Bane said having an understanding of common monkeypox symptoms and risk factors is helpful to avoid contracting monkeypox. 

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, has advised those most at risk to consider reducing their sexual partners.

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“That means making safe choices for yourself and others, for men who have sex with men,” Tedros told the Associated Press. “This includes, for the moment, reducing your number of sexual partners.”

“Monkeypox does not easily spread through brief casual contact, but it’s important to remember that anyone can be affected if they are a close contact of a positive case,” Indiana Health Commissioner Kris Box said in a release. “Hoosiers who believe they may have been exposed or who develop symptoms consistent with monkeypox are urged to contact a healthcare provider.”

How is the monkeypox virus spread?

Marshall Glesby, an infectious disease specialist at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian, told USA Today that the illness can be transmitted to anyone; for example, two children in the U.S. contracted monkeypox through close contact with infected family members.

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The contagion is part of the same family of viruses as smallpox, according to IDOH. Symptoms are similar to smallpox, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal.

In addition to contact with rash, scabs, or body fluids from a person with monkeypox, the spread can also occur by touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox or by contact with respiratory secretions. WHO officials said anyone in close contact with a patient or their contaminated clothing or bedsheets is at risk.

Monkeypox was discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research, hence its name, said the CDC. Rodents and non-human primates (like monkeys) might harbor the virus and infect people.

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

According to the CDC, symptoms of monkeypox can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
  • A rash that may be located on or near the genitals or anus but could also be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth.

The U.N. health agency has warned that the disease could be more severe among children and pregnant women.

Bane said the county health department encourages anyone with concerns to visit in.gov/health/monkeypox for more detailed information, and sign up at http://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/lUaRCL91K8fNgKqw7TPqxxp?domain=bit.ly to be notified of clinic opportunities in the ECI area.

To date, according to the CDC, about 25,391 cases have been reported in more than 83 countries and 6,325 cases have been reported in the U.S.

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