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Health Alert: Second Case of Monkeypox Identified in Tompkins County Resident

(Ithaca, N.Y., July 28, 2022) – The Tompkins County Health Department is reporting to the community that a case of monkeypox has been identified in a Tompkins County resident. TCHD worked with the New York State Department of Health to complete the case investigation and has concluded that there are no local close contacts. TCHD is asking residents to remain aware of symptoms and take steps to reduce your risk.  

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that, if left undetected and untreated, can cause severe illness, hospitalization and, rarely, death. While risk of contracting the disease for the general public is low, it is important for the community to know how the disease is acquired, its symptoms, how to reduce personal risk, and to seek evaluation as soon as possible, especially if you are immunocompromised and at high risk.

As of July 28, 2022, a total of 1,341 New York state confirmed monkeypox cases have been identified, with 1,251 in New York City and smaller numbers in several New York State counties. A full county listing of monkeypox cases is available on the NYSDOH website. To date, there have been no monkeypox related deaths reported in New York State.

Monkeypox is spread through close physical contact between individuals. This includes:

  • Skin-to-skin contact with monkeypox sores or rashes; or skin contact with dressings, fabrics etc. which have come into contact with skin lesions.
  • Sexual activity with multiple, casual partners significantly increases risk of infection. For more information on sexual health and monkeypox, visit this CDC fact sheet.
  • Being within 3 feet of an infected person (especially if they are coughing) since respiratory droplets and oral fluids from someone with monkeypox are contagious.

Symptoms of monkeypox include:

  • Rashes, bumps, or blisters on or around the genitals or in other areas like your hands, feet, chest, or face which are not clearly due to another known cause.
  • Please note that this current strain of monkeypox has a rash that does not present as it has previously; internet searches for “monkeypox rashes” may look different; any suspicious new rashes, bumps or blisters should be examined by a health care provider.
  • Swollen lymph glands.
  • Suspicion of monkeypox is greater if flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, and fatigue are present as well. These symptoms may occur before or after the rash appears, or not at all.

Important facts and steps to take to reduce risk:

  • Avoid close face-to-face and skin-to-skin contact with someone who has a monkeypox-related rash or other symptoms.
  • Ask your sexual partner(s) whether they have a rash or other symptoms consistent with monkeypox and if so, delay sex until they are evaluated by a healthcare provider.
  • If you are exposed or experience symptoms, make sure to reach out to a health care provider and avoid having sexual contact until your health has been evaluated.
  • Avoid risky behaviors if traveling to a region, state, or country where monkeypox is present.
  • Know that the disease is contagious from the onset of symptoms or rash until the scabs of the rash have dried up and fallen off and the skin is healing well underneath.
  • It may take 21 days from exposure until one develops signs of the infection.
  • The NYS Department of Health reports that a vast majority of monkeypox cases have occurred within populations of men who have sex with other men, however, it has also been spread man to woman, and woman to woman and without sexual relations.

If you are concerned about your risk or are concerned you may be experiencing symptoms, your health care provider can perform a risk-assessment and identify the appropriate steps to take. Treatments are available for those who meet criteria and are infected with monkeypox, including antiviral medication. A vaccine is used for those at high risk of infection who meet criteria.

Anyone who does not currently have a health care provider or who is uninsured and seeking a local provider should call 2-1-1 (1-877-211-8667).

Sign-up for Monkeypox Text Message Alerts:

New York State DOH now has a monkeypox text alert system. Sign up by texting “MONKEYPOX” to 81336 or “MONKEYPOXESP” for texts in Spanish. By providing a zip code, you can also opt-in for location-based messages, which may include information on vaccines and care in your area.

Tompkins County Public Health Director Frank Kruppa stated, “We’re alerting the community to this second case and urge everyone to be informed and take steps to minimize risk. At this time, the guidance is to take precautions to prevent infection and contact your health care provider right away if you suspect you may have come in contact with someone who has the disease or if you are experiencing symptoms.”

Kruppa added, “We are continuing to ask local health care providers to be aware of the symptoms and risk factors and be alert that monkeypox is spreading in New York State. We ask providers who test patients for monkeypox to notify the Health Department for additional coordination. Regarding vaccination, given the current limited supply, the vaccine is being prioritized for high-incidence areas and for confirmed high risk close contacts. To date, the reported Tompkins County cases had no local close contacts, so vaccine was not offered to Tompkins County. Should Tompkins County identify close contacts locally, we would work with NYS DOH to obtain the vaccine.”

The Tompkins County Health Department is your partner for a healthy community. Find us online at TompkinsCountyNY.gov/health, and follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/TompkinsPublicHealth and on Twitter at @TompkinsHealth. Sign up to receive COVID-19 updates or other county announcements via email or text.

Media contact: Samantha Hillson, shillson@tompkins-co.org

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