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July 05, 2022

Camden county detects its first monkeypox case

Health officials stress that most people are at low risk of contracting the disease

A Camden County resident who had traveled out of New Jersey recently has tested positive for monkeypox, health officials said Tuesday. It marks the county's first case in a worldwide outbreak that has infected at least 5,800 people in more than 50 countries. 

The resident is isolating at home, health officials said. Contact tracing has been conducted and vaccines are being provided to close contacts. 

"Monkeypox is very containable when immediate care has been sought for symptoms," Nwako said. "Additionally, a vaccine is available for high-risk contacts of an infected person, and patients with monkeypox can also receive antiviral treatment. There is no need for panic, but we are encouraging residents to stay vigilant and to watch for symptoms."

The disease typically causes flu-like symptoms – fever, chills, headaches, fatigue and swollen lymph nodes – with a rash forming after a few days. The rash begins as red bumps that turn into pus-filled blisters. The disease tends to last two to four weeks. 

But many cases in the current outbreak have not followed the typical pattern of symptoms, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Instead, people have reported fewer signs of illness, including no swollen lymph nodes, less fever and fewer lesions.

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by an orthopoxvirus. It was first discovered in 1958 in lab monkeys. The first human case was found in 1970. 

Prior to this outbreak, the disease primarily has spread among central and western African countries and among people who traveled there. The U.S. recorded its first case in 2003, but only had a handful of cases until this year. 

The outbreak has led to 460 monkeypox cases in 31 states and Puerto Rico, including 14 in Pennsylvania and four in New Jersey, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Monkeypox spreads by person-to-person contact with the infected areas of someone who has monkeypox. People who touch the rash or scabbing of someone infected, or have contact with the person's bodily fluids, are more prone to contracting monkeypox. Physical contact, such as kissing or hugging, increases the likelihood of contracting monkeypox.

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