First probable case of monkeypox in Cook County reported in Forest Park, health officials say

The first probable case of monkeypox in Cook County was reported in suburban Forest Park Saturday, according to Cook County public health officials.

The Cook County Department of Public Health said in a statement the probable case was based on “initial epidemiologic characteristics and a positive orthopoxvirus result.” Confirmatory testing for monkeypox was pending.

Those who the diagnosed person had close contact with were being identified and offered post-exposure vaccinations, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and county health officials.

Officials said the case is isolated and the risk to suburban residents is low, but they urge residents to seek medical attention if they experience monkeypox symptoms.

“The risk to residents of suburban Cook County remains low, but we want individuals to be aware of the signs and symptoms of monkeypox so that they seek medical care if they develop,” said Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, the county health department’s chief operating oofficer. “CCDPH is actively tracking all the contacts of this case to make them aware of their risk and reduce possible transmission.”

Monkeypox is a rare but potentially serious viral infection that typically begins with flu-like symptoms, swelling of the lymph nodes, and rashes across the face and body, officials said, adding that most infections resolve on their own in about two to four weeks.

It is spread through close contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores or any items contaminated by the infection, such as clothing and bedding, officials said. It is also passed through sexual contact — those who have multiple sex partners are said to be at a higher risk of obtaining and transmitting the infection.

If someone has a rash consistent with monkeypox or was in contact with someone diagnosed, officials recommend:

  • Covering exposed skin in dense, indoor crowds.
  • Not sharing bedding or clothing with others when possible.
  • Before having close, physical contact with others, talking to your partners about their health and any recent rashes or sores.
  • Staying aware of countries where there are monkeypox outbreaks.
  • Talking to a healthcare provider if you were potentially exposed.

Wearing a mask, staying home when feeling sick, informing sex partners of possible symptoms and answering confidential questions from health officials were also strongly encouraged.

While many of the cases are appearing within self-identified gay and bisexual men, officials said people of any sexual orientation or gender identity can become infected and spread monkeypox.

“Public awareness is important as the disease could spread within potentially larger groups or networks of people,” the department said in a statement.

“CCDPH urges the media, government officials and the community at-large to avoid stigmatizing a particular group or person for monkeypox, but rather support those at highest risk and ensure that all communities remain vigilant.“

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