CDC confirms two cases in Salt Lake County

Two adults in the same Salt Lake County home on Wednesday were confirmed to have monkeypox recently.

Salt Lake County Health officials initially announced the two “probable” cases early Monday, based on initial testing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has since confirmed the suspected diagnoses.

The two infected people traveled to an area in Europe earlier this month that “currently has cases of monkeypox” and subsequently became symptomatic, as advised by county health officials.

Dr. Angela Dunn, the executive director of the Salt Lake County Department of Health, said Monday that a husband who was then presumed infected went to a primary care doctor on Friday and was directed to isolate.

Within 24 hours, Dunn said health officials knew the couple had a type of orthopoxvirus — the family of viruses that includes monkeypox and smallpox. So far, they have had a mild illness and are expected to make a full recovery.

“Infected individuals remain in isolation and do not pose a risk to the public,” officials said in a press release on Wednesday.

No further information was released about the two individuals diagnosed with monkeypox; County health department officials cited medical privacy laws.

What experts know about monkeypox

Monkeypox is a rare disease commonly found in central and western Africa, but health officials have recently identified cases in Europe and North America.

In humans, monkeypox can cause flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes. People with monkeypox often develop a rash, which usually first appears on the face before spreading to other parts of the body, and then turns into fluid-filled bumps called smallpox, Salt Lake County health officials advise.

Smallpox lesions usually crust over before falling off. The infection can last between two and four weeks. Dunn said people don’t become infected until they have symptoms.

There is currently no proven, safe treatment for monkeypox. But the limited available evidence suggests that smallpox treatments may be beneficial, officials said.

Dunn said the county has a stockpile of smallpox vaccine and smallpox treatment that can be given. Most people recover without treatment.

The cases that appeared in Europe and North America, including two in Salt Lake County, were found in people who had not been to Africa recently. This means that there is a “new, sustained spread” of humans outside the continent where the disease is considered “endemic” or found regularly, Dunn said.

But she urged Utah not to panic.

“It doesn’t spread easily from human to human. We’re not talking about COVID here,” she said. “It’s really that direct contact with individuals who have monkeypox, and that’s how it’s spreading now.”

exposure fears

Officials said the Salt Lake County pair who contracted monkeypox did not pose a greater risk to the public.

It’s not known that the rare disease spreads easily between humans, Dunn said, and transmission generally doesn’t occur through casual contact.

Instead, human-to-human transmission generally occurs through direct contact with body fluids, including monkeypox lesions as well as semen and/or vaginal fluid.

This means that the virus can be spread through sexual contact, but it can also spread if someone comes into contact with such bodily fluids or other infectious material on someone’s clothing or bedding.

Individuals can also contract monkeypox through “prolonged, close, face-to-face contact”; Dunn explained that a “prolonged” contact is considered to be around three hours.

Close contacts of the infected couple were alerted by county health officials Monday, and none of them had any “high-risk” contact with the diagnosed individuals, meaning they likely did not contract the virus and were not required to quarantine.

It usually takes about seven to 14 days for someone to go from having monkeypox to start showing symptoms, but that time period can range from five to 21 days, officials advised.

Precautions to be taken while traveling

Dunn said Utans should see a doctor if they have recently traveled to an area where monkeypox was identified — or had close contact with someone showing symptoms — and they have since developed symptoms.

As of this week, cases of monkeypox have been identified in “non-endemic” regions including England, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Italy, Belgium, France, Canada and Australia.

Salt Lake County health officials advised Utahns planning to travel internationally to refer to the CDC’s current recommendations for monkeypox and other infectious diseases to their intended destinations.

These recommendations include frequent and thorough hand washing; avoid contact with animals; Avoid close contact with people who appear to have symptoms of monkeypox or other diseases.

Officials advised people planning international travel to consider checking to make sure they keep up with recommended vaccinations and educate them about potential health risks at their intended destinations.

You can plan an appointment with the Salt Lake County Department of Health Travel Clinic by calling 385-468-4111. Similar travel clinics are available in Davis and Utah counties.

For more information on monkeypox, visit CDC.gov/monkeypox.

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