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

(Ithaca, N.Y., August 9, 2022) – The Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD) is reporting a third case of monkeypox identified in a Tompkins County resident. TCHD completed the case investigation and has notified all local close contacts. Individuals identified as close contacts will monitor themselves and be in contact with TCHD for 21 days from the date of exposure to the case.

TCHD continues to ask residents to remain aware of symptoms of Monkeypox and take steps to reduce your risk.

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.
  • While monkeypox can be spread to anyone, anywhere, current case trends demonstrate that monkeypox is currently spreading in New York State most rapidly among men who have sex with men, a group that includes people who identify as gay, bisexual, transgender, and nonbinary.
  • 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.
  • Reduce or avoid activities that may increase your exposure to monkeypox, especially when 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.
  • Refer to the CDC's guide to Safer Sex and Social Gatherings.

If you are concerned about your risk or that you may be experiencing symptoms, your health care provider can perform a risk-assessment and identify the appropriate steps to take, including testing. Testing includes swabbing a lesion and submitting to a laboratory for analysis. Healthcare providers, including sexual health clinics and urgent care centers, can perform and order this test. Individuals must isolate while awaiting their test results.

TCHD continues to urge local healthcare providers who suspect monkeypox to call TCHD at 607-274-6604 to speak with a communicable disease nurse for additional guidance.

Treatments are available for those who meet criteria and are infected with monkeypox, including antiviral medication. A vaccine is also used for those at high risk of infection who meet criteria. At this time, allocation of the vaccine is determined by the State and is prioritized for those at high risk of infection.

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).

Tompkins County Public Health Director Frank Kruppa stated, “Be informed, 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. We are working closely with community partners to ensure precautions are being taken and information is being shared to groups who may be at high-risk of infection.”

Kruppa added, “Regarding vaccination, given the current limited supply, available vaccine is being prioritized for high-incidence areas and for confirmed high-risk close contacts. To date, reported Tompkins County cases have had no local high-risk close contacts, so vaccine has not yet been offered in Tompkins County. Should Tompkins County identify high-risk close contacts, we would work with NYS DOH to obtain the vaccine.

As of August 9, a total of 2,104 New York state confirmed monkeypox cases have been identified, with 1,965 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.

You can Sign-up for Monkeypox Text Message Alerts from New York State:

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.

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 Health Department updates or other county announcements via email or text.

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

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