As the United States has declared a public health emergency concerning the outbreak of the monkeypox virus, health officials in Kansas announced Monday that a probable case had been identified in Shawnee County.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said in a news release that lab testing in the county had identified one case and close contacts contained to a household there. The origin is believed to have come from an out-of-state visitor, the health agency said.
“The individuals are working with KDHE to identify contacts who may have been exposed,” the state agency said in the statement, adding that further details about the case would not be shared to protect the privacy of those exposed to the illness. “ If KDHE or Shawnee County Health Department does not contact you, you have not had a high-risk exposure to a case.”
The virus is typically spread through close skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. Examples of such contact include:
Contact with a person or people with a similar appearing rash or who received a diagnosis of confirmed or probable monkeypox
Close or intimate in-person contact with individuals in a social network experiencing monkeypox activity, including meeting partners through an online website, digital app or social event
Recent travel outside the US to a country with confirmed cases of monkeypox or where the monkeypox virus is endemic
Contact with a dead or live wild animal or exotic pet that is an African endemic species or used a product derived from such animals (game meat, creams, lotions, powders, etc.)
Vaccines for the virus are being made available to those with known high-risk exposures, though the “extremely limited” supply is unavailable to Kansans who have not been identified as possible carriers by state officials. The state intends to expand the availability of the vaccine when more doses are available, the agency says.
Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle ache, chills and exhaustion. One of the distinct features of the sickness is the sudden appearance of a rash that may resemble pimples or blisters.
The Kansas health agency encourages anyone with an unexplained rash similar to monkeypox to contact a health care provider as soon as possible.
Kansas health officials say the risk of spread remains low.
As of Monday, there had been two confirmed cases across the state. On Saturday KDHE reported the first confirmed case in the state had been found in Johnson County.
Kansans with general questions about monkeypox may call the state’s hotline at 866-534-3463. It is staffed Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Last week, the federal government declared a public health emergency as the monkeypox virus had infected some 7,100 across the U.S. Vaccines, meanwhile, have been difficult to come by in many metropolitan areas that have seen a heightened number of cases.