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Onondaga County reports first monkeypox case

Syracuse, N.Y. — Onondaga County reported its first monkeypox case today.

The Onondaga County resident who tested positive is in isolation and poses no risk to the public, the county health department announced. The county learned of the case Tuesday night.

Monkeypox is a viral infection that does not usually cause serious illness, but may result in hospitalization or death.

The health department said it has finished conducting contact tracing and all of the infected person’s known contacts have been notified.

“It’s inevitable we will have other cases,” Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said today at a news conference.

The individual who tested positive did not have to be hospitalized and is recovering well, said Stacey Fontana, a health department nurse practitioner.

The announcement of the first case came on the same day the county held its first monkeypox clinic.

The county received 600 doses of monkeypox vaccine. It expects to go through that supply quickly because each vaccinated person is required to get two doses.

McMahon said the county expects to get more of the vaccine, especially now that a county resident has tested positive.

Future clinics will be announced as the county receives additional vaccine. Vaccine supply from the federal government is currently limited, and eligibility is expected to expand as supply increases.

Monkeypox spreads through close physical contact between people. While anyone can get monkeypox, at this time, certain populations are being affected more than others, including men who have sex with men. The health department said people can avoid getting monkeypox by following these tips.

The only people currently eligible for the vaccine are gay or bisexual males, men who have sex with men, and/or transgender, gender non-conforming or gender non-binary who are 18 years or older, and have had multiple or anonymous sex partners in the last 14 days.

The incubation period for monkeypox is three to 17 days.

During this time, a person may have no symptoms. A rash will develop that can be located on or near the genitals or other areas of the body such as hands, feet, chest, face or mouth.

Sometimes, people have flu-like symptoms before the rash. Some people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash. The rash can initially look like pimples or blisters, may be painful or itchy, and is often confused with chickenpox. The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing.

Other symptoms of monkeypox can include: fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion, muscle aches, backache, headache and respiratory symptoms such as sore throat, nasal congestion or cough.

People who are infected may experience all or only a few symptoms.

Anyone who has close skin-to-skin contact with someone who has monkeypox can get the illness. If you develop a new, unexplained rash on any part of the body, contact your primary care provider immediately and avoid contact with others.

As of today, 2,132 monkeypox cases have been reported in New York state, 1,989 of them in New York City. Three cases have been reported in Tompkins County and one in Broome County.

James T. Mulder covers health. Have a news tip? Contact him at (315) 470-2245 or jmulder@syracuse.com

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