The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) said in news releases that two cases of monkeypox virus infection have been identified in Alabama.
The first was in Mobile County where the Mobile County Health Department (MCHD) announced that it has identified the first case of monkeypox virus infection in Alabama. The Alabama Department of Public Health and Jefferson County Department of Health (JCDH) said in news releases that a second case has been identified, this one in Jefferson County.
Additional positive cases of monkeypox are expected as testing for the virus continues throughout the state, according to the ADPH.
The ADPH Bureau of Clinical Laboratories (BCL) tested the first patient's specimen.
In this outbreak of monkeypox in the United States, approximately 1,470 cases have been identified in 44 states and more are expected.
Dr. Rendi Murphree, a Mobile County Health Department epidemiologist, said monkeypox can be transmitted through close person-to-person contact.
“The patient had no known contact with a monkeypox patient — so did not know if they had skin-to-skin contact with someone who had monkeypox— which emphasizes the importance of raising awareness for our community in general, but in particular, raising awareness for our healthcare community and those that are at most risk for infection,” Murphree said during a news conference about the case in Mobile County.
Monkeypox does not spread easily from person to person. But close, intimate, skin-to-skin contact appears to be the primary transmission mode in the current global outbreak. It is possible that contact with materials used by infected persons, such as clothing and linens, can be a way to contract the virus. The virus typically enters the body through broken skin, respiratory droplets, or mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth).
Symptoms in this most current outbreak have not been as typical as in previous cases of monkeypox. Instead, persons will have a rash that starts out as flat spots, followed by raised spots, then deep-seated vesicles have a tiny spot in the middle of the vesicle and may be itchy or painful.
Cases began emerging in Europe and the United States this spring. Most of the roughly 1,000 cases reported in the U.S. have been among men who have sex with men, but health officials stress that anyone can get the disease.
An effective vaccine against monkeypox exists. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the vaccine for people who have already been exposed to the virus and their presumed contacts.
The rash may only be on one part of the body. Some people may only have the rash and not develop other symptoms such as fever, flu-like illness, headache, muscle aches, or fatigue.
The time between exposure to the virus and when the illness begins is about 7 to 14 days but can be as long as 21 days.
Steps to help prevent monkeypox include the following:
Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with a person who has monkeypox.
Do not handle or touch the bedding, clothing, or towels of a person who has monkeypox.
Have persons with monkeypox isolated away from others.
Wash hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after contact with ill people who have monkeypox.
Avoid contact with animals that could have the virus (such as animals that are sick or that have been found dead).
Testing for monkeypox can be done at the ADPH BCL and some commercial laboratories. An effective vaccine against monkeypox exists, but at this time there is no recommendation for vaccination for those with no known exposure to confirmed cases. Antiviral treatment can be considered in persons with certain high-risk conditions, such as immunosuppression.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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