Probable monkeypox case reported in Iowa, but state health officials say risk to public is low

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Iowa's first probable case of monkeypox has been reported in an adult from the north central part of the state, the Iowa Department of Public Health announced, but it said the risk to the public is low.

The patient, who was not identified, was likely infected during international travel, the department said in a Friday news release. It said the person is isolated and receiving outpatient care and is in contact with health department staff.

The department is conducting contact tracing to identify anyone who may have come into contact with the patient while the disease was contagious, according to the release. Those who have will be "directed to watch for symptoms of illness and are offered a vaccine series that can prevent symptoms from developing or developing severe illness," Department of Public Health spokesperson Sarah Ekstrand said in the release.

More: 'Bursts of sharp jabbing pain': What it's like to have monkeypox – and the fight against stigma

An illustration of monkeypox virus particles. This virus, endemic to the rainforests in Central and West Africa, causes disease in humans and monkeys, although its natural hosts are rodents.
An illustration of monkeypox virus particles. This virus, endemic to the rainforests in Central and West Africa, causes disease in humans and monkeys, although its natural hosts are rodents.

Ekstrand said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "does not recommend broader use of the vaccine at this time — however, their evaluation of vaccine guidance is ongoing."

More: How to get a vaccine against monkeypox in the US. Who should get one?

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The department recommends that anyone with a rash that looks like monkeypox talk to their doctor, even if they don’t think they had contact with someone who has the disease. Monkeypox is fatal for up to 1 in 10 people, the World Health Organization says.

The State Hygienic Lab in Coralville conducted the testing in the Iowa case.

The virus that causes monkeypox is part of the same family of viruses as smallpox, according to the CDC. The symptoms are similar to smallpox, but milder, and include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a rash that looks like pimples or blisters.

Monkeypox virus, colorized
Monkeypox virus, colorized

More: Closer look: Rising reports of rare monkeypox cases in US and around the world raise concern

The CDC said the U.S. had recorded 460 confirmed cases of monkeypox as of Friday, including in Iowa neighbors Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

More information about monkeypox and case tracking is available on the CDC website at cdc.gov.

Grace Altenhofen is a staff writer for the Des Moines Register. She can be reached at galtenhofen@registermedia.com or on Twitter @gracealtenhofen.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Iowa reports first probable monkeypox case, but risk is called low