INDIANAPOLIS — Two probable cases of monkeypox have been identified in Marion County, local health officials said Wednesday.
It comes a little under a month after the Indiana Department of Health reported the very first probable case of the viral disease had been identified in Indiana.
“Even though the risk of transmission is very low here, we all need to be aware of the facts about this virus, including risk factors and how it’s spread,” said Virginia A. Caine, M.D., director and chief medical officer of the Marion County Public Health Department in a statement.
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.
To date, a total of 929 confirmed monkeypox cases have been reported across the U.S. Of that number, 10 are in Indiana.
“We are still learning more about monkeypox and encourage anyone with concerns about their health to contact a primary care physician or healthcare provider,” Caine said.
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.