Brown County confirms first case of monkeypox

23 cases have been confirmed in Wisconsin since June 1
Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 11:29 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 5, 2022 at 6:34 PM CDT
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BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - Brown County has confirmed its first case of monkeypox. Brown County Health and Human Services says the patient is in isolation while health officials conduct contact tracing.

As of Thursday, 23 cases were confirmed in Wisconsin since June 1, including at least 3 cases in Appleton and 1 in Menasha.

“At this time, there is no need for concern or alarm,” said Anna Nick, Brown County Public Health Officer. “We continue to work closely with DHS and our health care partners to monitor the status of monkeypox here in Brown County. The risk of widespread transmission in our community remains low.”

The chances of getting monkeypox aren’t like COVID-19. The virus typically spreads through skin-to-skin touching, primarily sexual contact. Early symptoms are fever, swollen lymph nodes, muscle aches, and chills. Monkeypox comes with a rash that develops into pus-filled lesions.

Dr. Ashok Rai, president and CEO of Prevea Health, explained, “To transmit monkeypox, it takes a lot of physical contact or really close contact. Even though you can get it through respiratory particles, it means spending a lot of time face to face with somebody. Think about intense physical contact, think about intimacy, think about kissing, think about people being together. Even somebody who is actively infected with monkeypox, they usually have this pustules over their body. As those pustules open up, they can infect bedding and somebody who spends a lot of time in that bedding can get infected as well.”

At this point, most of the cases have been among men who have sex with other men. But health officials say everyone should be alert as the case numbers rise.

“It happens that a lot of the cases were clustered in a certain group that had very close skin-to-skin contact with each other, and so it’s spread in that group, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t spread beyond that group. So it really is awareness of what the symptoms are, whoever you are,” Dr. Dan Shirley of UW Health said.

The JYNNEOS vaccine is available for those eligible in the state of Wisconsin:

• People who know that a sexual partner in the past 14 days was diagnosed with monkeypox.

• People who attended an event or venue where there was known monkeypox exposure.

• Gay, bisexual persons, trans persons, or any person who has sex with their partner, and gender non-conforming/non-binary individuals, who have had multiple sexual partners in the last 14 days.

“There was a stockpile of the vaccine -- a limited amount -- already, and so the decision is, how d you distribute that amongst the states? Some of that has to do with population and how many cases are already in various places, and deciding who is at risk, and trying to get it to them in a safe and fair way,” Dr. Shirley explained.

“The vaccine is being prioritized for those with a known exposure to someone with monkeypox and people with certain risk factors who are more likely to be exposed to the virus,” Debbie Armbruster, De Pere Public Health Officer and Michelle Myers, Oneida Nation Public Health Officer wrote in a joint statement. “It is still important for everyone in Brown County to be aware of the signs and symptoms of monkeypox to help prevent the spread in our communities.”

People exposed to monkeypox should monitor symptoms for 21 days after the date of exposure. Check your temperatures two times per day. If symptoms begin, contact a doctor.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services says most people recover without needing treatment. There’s no specific treatment for monkeypox. but antivirals used to treat smallpox can be used.

“Probably the most important thing that we’re doing here is that once we know that somebody is positive that contact tracing and making sure that those who have had true exposure, that true skin-to-skin contact, those household contacts are being offered the vaccination. The vaccination may not completely prevent you from getting monkeypox. It could make it milder. There is a chance it could prevent you from fully contracting it. So it’s really important early on that we know about those close contacts. There is an oral medication for those who have the disease. It’s limited in who we can give it to based on other medications and illness they may have, but there is treatment,” said Dr. Rai.

“The average person doesn’t need to be super worried,” Dr. Shirley said, “but it’s more about awareness and realizing what the symptoms are and what the risk factors are. The risk factors are going to places where there’s a lot of known monkeypox cases.”

CLICK HERE to learn more about monkeypox.

The federal government declared a public health emergency to help bolster the response to monkeypox. The U.S. now leads the world in confirmed cases, with more than 7,100. More than 80 countries have reported the virus.

Health officials are reminding people how monkeypox is spread and that it isn't like COVID-19

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