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IU Health opening test site for monkeypox

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Posted at 8:23 AM, Sep 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-05 12:34:08-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana University Health is opening a lab that will be the primary testing site for suspected monkeypox samples in Indiana.

The lab, located in downtown Indianapolis, can test 500 samples per day. It allows scientists to safely deactivate the virus in incoming samples and test them for the presence of the monkeypox virus.

IU Health says at this time, its lab is the only one in the state doing monkeypox testing. Results could come within 24-48 hours after someone is tested.

"We are very fortunate that we have a facility that's able to take on such a high complexity testing with a lot of biosafety considerations and roll it out right away," Kenneth Gavina, clinical microbiologist, said. "Now that we have this testing in place, the goal is to try to make testing available for all residents of Indiana."

As of Sept. 2 at 2 p.m EST, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there have been 172 monkeypox cases in Indiana.

Earlier this week, the Indiana Department of Health has launched a new data dashboard to track monkeypox cases in the state.

The data is broken down by gender, age group, race, ethnicity and public health district.

>More about Monkeypox

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Monkeypox is a disease caused by infection with a virus that's part of the same family as the variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar, but milder. It is not related to chickenpox.

The rare disease was first discovered in 1958 and the first human case was recorded in 1970. It had been reported in people in several central and western African countries prior to an outbreak this year, according to the CDC.

Many of those affected in the current outbreak are men who have sexual contact with other men, but anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has the illness can contract it.

The risk of transmission in the general U.S. population is considered low, as it does not spread easily between people without close contact, according to the Marion County Health Department.

Symptoms of monkeypox include a rash, which may look like pimples or blisters, and can spread through person-to-person contact in several different ways, such as the following, according to the Marion County Health Department:

  • Direct contact with monkeypox rash, sores, or scabs from a person with monkeypox. This is believed to be the most common way that virus is spreading in the U.S.
  • Contact with objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.
  • Contact with respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex.
  • During pregnancy, the virus can spread to a fetus through the placenta.

Antiviral drugs and vaccines have been developed to protect against, prevent and treat monkeypox infections. People who test positive for the disease should isolate while they're infected. In some cases, close contacts may also need to quarantine.

More information on monkeypox is available on the CDC's website.