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Mineral County Health Department explains monkeypox after Montana reports first case

by Mineral County Health Department
| August 10, 2022 12:00 AM

On Aug. 5, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services announced that Montana's first case of monkeypox was detected in Flathead County.

Monkeypox is an orthopoxvirus, as is smallpox, but causes less severe symptoms than smallpox. The virus is not easily spread between people with casual contact. It is spread from human to human through close contact with respiratory secretions from prolonged face-to-face contact, skin lesions of an infected person, or recently contaminated objects like clothes or bed linens.

It can take between 5-21 days (average is around 6-13 days) after someone has been exposed to monkeypox before they begin showing symptoms. The first symptoms can include fever, headache, swelling of lymph nodes, back pain, muscle aches, and fatigue. A skin rash that looks like blisters or pimples usually appears 1-3 days after the fever, and tends to be on the face, inside the mouth, or other parts of the body. Visit https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/symptoms.html for more information about symptoms.

People who have monkeypox usually get better on their own within 2-4 weeks without treatment. Some people who are immunocompromised may experience more severe symptoms. Treatment and vaccines developed for smallpox can be used for monkeypox since they are closely related. Antiviral drugs, such as tecovirimat, and vaccines may be used to prevent and treat monkeypox infections. The need for treatment depends on how sick someone gets or the likelihood they will become severely ill. DPHHS is staging supplies of tecovirimat across the state for use, if necessary. At this time the CDC does not recommend widespread vaccination against monkeypox, but it may be recommended for some people who have been exposed to the virus.

Steps you can take to prevent getting monkeypox:

Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.

Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.

Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.

Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used.

Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox.

Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.

Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after you use the bathroom.

If you have symptoms of monkeypox, including a rash, call your health care provider even if you aren’t aware of any exposure to someone with monkeypox. Early detection by patients and clinicians is necessary to reduce the spread of this virus.

For more information about monkeypox, visit https://dphhs.mt.gov/publichealth/cdepi/diseases/monkeypox or https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/index.html

Mineral County Health Department has not received any doses of vaccine or treatments. However, we are prepared to assist health care providers in determining the need for treatment and locating treatments from regional area caches for patients with monkeypox. If you have questions about monkeypox, please call the Mineral County Health Department at (406) 822-3564.

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