DuPage County Sees First Probable Case of Monkeypox; Risk to General Public Still Low

The DuPage County Health Department reported their first probable case of monkeypox last week, but they still maintain that risk to the general public is very low.

The individual who tested positive is a an adult male who has recently traveled to a country experiencing a larger outbreak of monkeypox.

The case is deemed “probable” because while the individual tested positive during an orthopoxvirus test, the DCHD is awaiting confirmation on the specific monkeypox test from the CDC. The IDPH and DCHD are working to contact others whom may have been exposed to this individual, but at this time, DCHD has not identified any additional cases in the county.

There have now been four reported cases of monkeypox in Illinois. There have been 11 in New York, 10 in California, and five in Florida.

It’s still apparent that risk to the general public is relatively low. The DCHD goes on in their press release to say:

The case remains isolated and at this time there is no indication there is a great risk of extensive local spread of the virus, as monkeypox does not spread as easily as the COVID-19 virus (emphasis added). Person to person transmission is possible through close physical contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores, items that have been contaminated with fluids or sores (clothing, bedding, etc.), or through respiratory droplets following prolonged face-to-face contact.

Since May 14, 2022, clusters of monkeypox cases have been reported in several countries that don’t normally have monkeypox. On May 20, 2022, the CDC issued a Health Advisory regarding recent cases in the United States.  As of June 10, 2022, the CDC reports 49 confirmed cases of orthopox/monkeypox across 16 states, including Illinois.

Monkeypox is a rare, but potentially serious viral illness, which belongs to the Orthopoxvirus family, and typically begins with flu-like symptoms and swelling of the lymph nodes, and progresses to a rash on the face and body. Most infections last 2 to 4 weeks. Monkeypox is typically endemic to parts of central and west Africa, and people can be exposed through bites or scratches from rodents and small mammals, preparing wild game, or having contact with an infected animal or possibly animal products.

It’s not clear how the people were exposed to monkeypox, but early data suggest that gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men make up a high number of cases. However, anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk.  Public health officials are urging healthcare providers in the U.S. to be alert for patients who have rash illnesses consistent with monkeypox, regardless of whether they have travel or specific risk factors for monkeypox and regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

 Anyone with a rash that looks like monkeypox should talk to their healthcare provider, even if they don’t think they had contact with someone who has monkeypox. People who may be at higher risk might include but are not limited to those who:

  1. Had contact with someone who had a rash that looks like monkeypox or someone who was diagnosed with confirmed or probable monkeypox
  2. Had skin-to-skin contact with someone in a social network experiencing monkeypox activity, this includes men who have sex with men who meet partners through an online website, digital application (“app”), or social event (e.g., a bar or party)
  3. Traveled outside the US to a country with confirmed cases of monkeypox or where monkeypox activity has been ongoing
  4. Had contact with a dead or live wild animal or exotic pet that exists only in Africa or used a product derived from such animals (e.g., game meat, creams, lotions, powders, etc.).

For more about this virus, visit www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/