“Low risk” monkeypox confirmed in South Carolina

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Published: Jul. 8, 2022 at 9:40 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The first two cases of monkeypox in South Carolina were confirmed on Friday, one in the Midlands and one in the Lowcountry.

Both individuals are under monitored isolation for the remainder of their infectious period, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).

“The identification of these first cases did not catch us off guard. We were monitoring how cases were increasing in other jurisdictions and were prepared to investigate and respond,” said Dr. Linda Bell, State Epidemiologist at DHEC.

The virus that causes monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 within a colony of monkeys imported from Asia to Denmark.

Twelve years later, the first human case of monkeypox was identified in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In 2003, the disease was brought to the Western Hemisphere when a Texas animal distributor purchased at least 800 small mammals from Ghana.

Today, the rare disease is typically transmitted through prolonged, intimate contact with infected humans, according to DHEC.

“People who have had close, intimate contact with those who are infected are the majority of cases [in the United States]. That’s why the risk to the general population is low,” continued Dr. Bell.

DHEC says to avoid intimate contact with someone experiencing flu-like symptoms or active skin lesions.

“Those lesions can also contaminate bedding, towels or other shared items. So, contact with those, as well, is a risk of exposure,” concluded Dr. Bell.

In a later email, DHEC confirmed that post-exposure vaccines are available to close contacts of the infected in South Carolina.

If you develop an unusual rash or fear potential exposure, DHEC advises you to contact your local health department.

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