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First monkeypox case confirmed in Ingham County, Vail explains risk to public

August 4, 2022
<p>A courtesy van parked outside Olin Health Center on February 27, 2020.</p>

A courtesy van parked outside Olin Health Center on February 27, 2020.

Photo by Lauren DeMay | The State News

The Ingham County Health Department announced the first probable case of the monkeypox virus in Ingham County on Aug. 1.

According to the department’s website, monkeypox can cause a rash or sores in infected individuals often with an earlier flu-like illness. However, monkeypox is rarely fatal.

“(Monkeypox) is (a) very, very close contact, infectious disease that requires kissing, hugging,” Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail said.“We aren't expecting it to be something that the general public would really be concerned about unless they are engaging in those kinds of activities with somebody who either has or is suspected to have monkeypox.”

In addition, people who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others.

Vaccines for monkeypox are in very little supply right now, Vail said.

“Currently, the priority is what we call post-exposure prophylaxis,” Vail said. “So, that means when we identify somebody with monkeypox, we identify their close contacts … Those are the people who would be eligible for the vaccine because of post-exposure prophylaxis, meaning prevention. The earlier they get it, the better. Get it within the first four days and you're likely not to get monkeypox … and it is still possible to get monkeypox, but the vaccine will basically allow you to have a much less severe case.”

Monkeypox is not an incredibly severe disease. But, the disease is something the department is working on preventing and containing, she said.

Vail said individuals must be aware of the risk factors like intimate contact with somebody who potentially has monkeypox. 

“There are certain high-risk groups and so there are certain people who might want to be more attentive to their intimate contact with other people,” she said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, festivals, events and concerts where people are fully clothed and unlikely to have skin-to-skin contact are safer for avoiding the spread of monkeypox. Also, enclosed spaces such as backrooms, saunas, sex clubs or other venues where sexual contact can occur are perfect places for monkeypox to spread.

MSU Spokesperson Dan Olsen said in an email the university is aware of the monkeypox case. 

“The university is having conversations with the Ingham County Health Department and will take its direction from public health officials as it relates to any additional preventive measures,” Olsen said. 

For now, MSU encourages all community members to wash their hands frequently and see a physician if they have symptoms of monkeypox.



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