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First monkeypox case confirmed in Shelby County

The Shelby County Health Department said they're working to find close contacts to the person that was infected.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Shelby County Health Department (SCHD) confirmed the first reported monkeypox case in the county Monday. 

Testing for monkeypox was conducted by American Esoteric Laboratories (AEL). 

SCHD said they are working with the patient and the patient’s health care provider(s) to identify those who may have been in contact with the patient while they were infectious.

Monkeypox is a rare disease in the same family of viruses as smallpox. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the monkeypox virus can spread from person to person through:

  • direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids
  • respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex
  • touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids
  • pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta

Infection may begin with fever, headache, muscle aches, and exhaustion before the developing rash. Many of the cases associated with the 2022 outbreak have reported very mild or no symptoms other than rash. 

The virus can be transmitted from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. Most people recover in 2-4 weeks, but the disease can be serious in rare instances, especially for immunocompromised people, children, and those who are pregnant. 

People who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others. Contacts are monitored for several weeks, as it can take as many as 21 days after exposure for symptoms to develop.

The public is advised to be alert for the appearance of any new rashes characterized by sores, bumps, or fluid-filled bumps and seek medical evaluation from their primary care physician or health care provider if they have symptoms or concerns. 

An effective vaccine against monkeypox exists, but at this time there is no recommendation for vaccination for those with no known exposure to confirmed cases, and the vaccine is not available to the general public at this time.

For more information about monkeypox, visit the following online resources:

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