First monkeypox case identified in Louisiana resident

State health officials contacting people possibly exposed

By: - July 7, 2022 3:05 pm

In this Centers for Disease Control and Prevention handout graphic, symptoms of one of the first known cases of the monkeypox virus are shown on a patient’s hand on June 5, 2003. Louisiana identified its first resident with monkeypox July 7, 2022. (Photo courtesy of CDC/Getty Images)

State health officials reported Thursday the first case of a Louisiana resident who has contracted monkeypox, in addition to an out-of-state visitor who was diagnosed while in Louisiana. Some 15 to 20 people they potentially exposed to the virus are now being contacted, according the Louisiana Department of Health.

State health officer Dr. Joseph Kanter stressed that while the number of monkeypox cases are expected to increase, the virus does not present an overwhelming public health threat.

“This is not ebola. This is not COVID,” Kanter said in a call with reporters. “This is not expected to erupt into a worldwide pandemic that would grossly disrupt our way of life.”

Two vaccines are available to treat people exposed to monkeypox. If administered within four days of exposure, the vaccine can prevent the onset of symptoms, state epidemiologist Theresa Sokol said. When given five to 14 days after exposure, symptoms will be less severe, she said.

Between five and 10 doses of vaccine has been administered post-exposure in Louisiana, she said.

How does monkeypox spread

The monkeypox virus is most often spread by skin-to-skin contact with a rash or sores of someone who is infected. It can also spread through contact with clothing, bedding or other items someone with monkeypox has used, or in respiratory droplets passed through prolonged face-to-face contact.

Monkeypox symptoms can include fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. Rashes that look like blisters or pimples can appear on the face, inside the mouth or on other parts of the body such as the hands, feet, chest, genitals and anus.

 

Sokol said between 30 and 40 people in Louisiana have tested negatively for monkeypox through the state health department. Those numbers are expected to increase now that hospitals and clinics will broaden the availability of testing.

Individuals at the highest risk contract monkeypox are gay or bisexual men who have sex with multiple or anonymous partners, Kanter said. He stressed that there have been no fatalities among the 600 plus cases of monkeypox identified in the U.S., explaining that fatal outcomes have been most prevalent in portions of Africa without access to adequate medical care.

Louisiana initially had just 20 doses of monkeypox vaccine available, but Kanter said he expects the supply to increase now that the state has identified its first case. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has 75,000 doses available, he said.

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Greg LaRose
Greg LaRose

Greg LaRose has covered news for more than 30 years in Louisiana. Before coming to the Louisiana Illuminator, he was the chief investigative reporter for WDSU-TV in New Orleans. He previously led the government and politics team for The Times-Picayune | NOLA.com, and was editor in chief at New Orleans CityBusiness. Greg's other career stops include Tiger Rag, South Baton Rouge Journal, the Covington News Banner, Louisiana Radio Network and multiple radio stations.

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