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Polk County Health Department confirms first case of monkeypox

7/11/2022

(Des Moines, IA) The Polk County Health Department has confirmed the first case of monkeypox in Polk County.

The patient was likely infected during travel within the United States and is isolating, receiving outpatient care and in communication with health department staff. The Health Department is working closely with the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services to conduct contact tracing with local health partners to identify anyone who may be at risk due to direct close contact with the patient while infectious. People with direct close contact are directed to watch for symptoms of illness and are offered a vaccine series that can prevent symptoms from developing or developing severe illness.

“The risk of monkeypox in the general population remains very low,” said Helen Eddy, Polk County Health Department Director. “However, it is important for community to be aware of this virus including transmission, prevention and when it’s appropriate to seek medical care.”

Monkeypox is a viral infection that can spread through skin-to-skin contact, body fluids, monkeypox sores or shared items (such as clothing and bedding) that have been contaminated with fluids or sores of a person with monkeypox. The virus can also be spread through respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex. Although monkeypox is not generally considered a sexually transmitted infection, but it can be transmitted during intimate contact and sex by skin-to-skin and other intimate contact, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

People with monkeypox sometimes develop a flu-like illness with fever, fatigue, and enlarged lymph nodes followed by a rash. In other instances, people just develop a rash with or without swollen lymph nodes, which can occur on the genitals and/or around the anus. People usually develop monkeypox 7 to 14 days (and up to 21 days) after being exposed.

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The Health Department encourages the following individuals to call and seek guidance from their medical provider:

  • Recently traveled to an area where monkeypox cases have been reported and you have symptoms of monkeypox especially if you have a rash or lesions. You can find a list of the countries where monkeypox has been reported on the CDC website
  • People who have symptoms of monkeypox, particularly the characteristic rash or lesions
  • Contact with a confirmed or suspected monkeypox case

“The emergence of monkeypox in the United States serves as a reminder to stay up-to-date on regular STI testing based on your sexual behavior, partners and if you have symptoms,” said Eddy. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides recommendations on healthy sexual practices.”

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