GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The first probable case of monkeypox has been identified in Kent County, the Kent County Health Department announced on Monday.
The health department said that the infected person is isolating and “does not pose a risk to the public.” Officials said the patient recently traveled out of state and had close contact with someone who likely had monkeypox. The patient also tested negative for other diseases that resemble monkeypox.
Any close contacts will be monitored for symptoms, the health department said. No other cases have been identified.
Monkeypox is a rare but potentially serious disease. It spreads from person to person by direct contact with bodily fluids or monkeypox lesions. The health department said it can also be spread through respiratory droplets from prolonged face-to-face contact or contact with contaminated materials, but this is less common.
“It’s very rare. It’s a very low risk to the community, but because it looks like multiple other diseases, it’s important for us to have specific information related to monkeypox and that particularly goes with travel, exposure,” Cathy Armstrong from the health department said. “If they don’t have a travel or exposure or other type of high-risk behavior, then it’s really not a concern.”
She said the illness has infected small clusters of people.
“It’s not like COVID, where it can just spread dramatically through a population,” Armstrong said.
The health department said the incubation period is one to two weeks after exposure. Symptoms include headache, fever, muscle aches and exhaustion. A rash and lesions often begin on the face one to three days after the onset of illness. The illness typically lasts two to four weeks.
Anyone experiencing symptoms is asked to their health care provider.
There are no specific treatments for the monkeypox virus, but the virus is genetically similar to smallpox, the health department said. This means that the antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox can be used to prevent and treat monkeypox infections.
“Most people don’t need a monkeypox vaccine right now. However, if you have had contact with someone who has the disease you should contact your healthcare provider,” the health department said in a press release.
—News 8’s Jacqueline Francis contributed to this report.