Two cases of monkeypox confirmed in South Carolina

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Jul. 8—The first cases of monkeypox in South Carolina have been confirmed.

According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, two cases of the infection have been confirmed. One case is in the Midlands regions and the other is in the Lowcountry region. The patients are being monitored until they are no longer infectious and will isolate if needed.

"We understand residents have concerns about how this virus might impact our state," said Dr. Linda Bell, state epidemiologist, in a news release Friday. "We expected infections to eventually occur in South Carolina as part of the larger international outbreak, which is why DHEC has been planning a response for weeks. That said, monkeypox doesn't spread easily and we believe the risk to the general population remains low at this time."

Epidemiology staff members are working on contact investigations and offering post-exposure vaccination to people who were exposed to the infected individuals. Those exposed will also be monitored to see if they develop an infection, according to DHEC. The CDC has been notified and DHEC is following CDC guidance for the monkeypox response.

DHEC said that monkeypox is a rare, but potentially serious viral illness. It usually begins with flu-like symptoms, along with lymph node swelling the progresses to a rash on the face and the body. The infections typically last two to four weeks. The virus is not easily transmitted from person to person, but can be spread through extended face-to-face contact, skin-to-skin contact, including sexual contact, and through contaminated materials (clothing or linens of an infected person).

Healthcare workers are asked to report any patient they believe may have monkeypox for evaluation. If a person believes they have been exposed, they need to seek medical attention or call the local health department.

For more information, visit the scdhec.gov or cdc.gov.