Olmsted County identifies first monkeypox case

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Olmsted County Public Health reported their first local monkeypox case on August 22.

The Minnesota Department of Health has since then reported between 1 and 4 cases in Olmsted County. Public health director Denise Daniels said in a press conference Friday that the person who first contracted it had recently traveled out of state.

“An individual is considered infectious until all their lesions have scabbed over, fallen off and the healthy skin has developed. So this individual will continue to isolate until that point,” said epidemiologist Matthew Giljork.

Monkeypox can bring muscle aches and other flu-like symptoms as well as a rash that looks like sores or pimples. As of now people in Olmsted County cannot get tested for monkeypox unless they have a rash.

As of Friday, the County said they do not have widespread vaccination plans — they target vaccination to high-risk groups. These groups include people exposed to the virus and people with multiple sexual partners, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We haven’t seen any deaths in the United States right now, but that doesn’t mean that that will be the case forever. Monkeypox can also cause some disability and scarring,” said Giljork.

Olmsted County said monkeypox does not spread easily through casual contact. They are not worried about increased transmission during the upcoming school year. Many living in and visiting Olmsted County say they are concerned the community is not ready for more public health risks.

“As a community, we have proven that we’re not prepared. We proved it with COVID, and back in the day we proved it with AIDS,” said Larry, who is visiting Olmsted County.

“Here in the community I have not heard anything about whether we have cases, or what we should do if we have questions or anything,” said Rodolfo Espinosa, who lives and works in Olmsted County.

More information on monkeypox can be found here. Those who think they may have contracted monkeypox are encouraged to reach out to a healthcare professional.