Monkeypox identified in Sullivan County, first case in Upstate NY

The first monkeypox case has been identified in Upstate New York.

The New York State Department of Health announced Tuesday that an orthopoxvirus case has been confirmed in Sullivan County, marking the state’s first case outside of New York City. Contract tracing efforts are underway; health officials are treating it as a monkeypox case because monkeypox belongs to the orthopoxvirus family and has similar symptoms.

“As the risk for monkeypox remains low, we urge New Yorkers to be alert and seek care if you have symptoms consistent with monkeypox, as we continue to learn more about this virus,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said. “Healthcare providers throughout the state have been notified, our Wadsworth Center public health lab will continue to test for orthopoxvirus, and we will work with local health departments and public health experts to protect New Yorkers.”

It’s the ninth orthopoxvirus/monkeypox case in New York state, confirmed a day after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised its monkeypox alert level and recommended travelers wear masks.

Monkeypox is a rare disease first discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys used for research, according to the CDC. The first human case was reported in the 1970s in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and, since then, has primarily been found in Africa, but cases have been reported worldwide include at least 31 in the US

Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox, starting with flu-like conditions such as a fever, headache, muscle aches, and exhaustion. Monkeypox also causes lymph nodes to swell and can lead to a painful rash and lesions.

The incubation period for monkeypox is usually 7−14 days but can range from two to four weeks.

Those who experience monkeypox symptoms, have traveled to countries where monkeypox cases have been reported or been exposed to someone with suspected or confirmed monkeypox, are urged to contact their health care provider for a risk assessment.

“In concert with the NYS Department of Health, we continue to closely monitor this case, which is limited to just one individual. There is no identified risk to any County residents, as the individual had traveled outside the USA and was no longer contagious by the time they returned to Sullivan County,” said Sullivan County Public Health Director Nancy McGraw. “As we have done with COVID-19, Sullivan County Public Health remains vigilant and ready to respond to communicable diseases of all types, and should there be any public health risk, we will promptly make notice to our residents and visitors.”

Additional details about the Sullivan County case, including the person’s identity, were not disclosed. Sullivan County is located in the Catskills region, west of Poughkeepsie and south of Cooperstown and Oneonta.

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