Health officials have identified the first known case of monkeypox in Louisiana

The Louisiana Department of Health has identified the state’s first known case of monkeypox.

The department announced that the first case in a Louisiana resident was found in the New Orleans area. Another case was found in someone visiting Louisiana from out of state.

Although no other infections had been identified as of Thursday afternoon, the state said it suspects there may have been other undiagnosed cases in Louisiana before Thursday’s announcement.

Read the full news release below.

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The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) reports the first confirmed case of monkeypox infection in a Louisiana resident. This face is from LDH region 1 (Orleans, Plaquemin, Jefferson, St. Bernard). In addition, an out-of-state resident visiting Louisiana also tested positive for monkeypox. No further information about these cases will be shared to protect patient privacy.

LDH will hold a technical media briefing this afternoon to discuss monkeypox in Louisiana. Further details are forthcoming.

There are likely more undiagnosed cases of monkeypox in humans in Louisiana than have been officially tested and identified to date.

LDH is working closely with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the patients’ health care providers to identify and notify individuals in Louisiana who may have been in contact with the patients while they were infected. LDH kept Louisiana providers updated, urged providers to be alert for patient symptoms, and shared monkeypox-specific reports and guidelines for specimen submission.

As of May 2022, 605 cases of monkeypox have been identified in 36 states. Worldwide, more than 7,200 cases have been reported from 54 countries; the number of cases continues to rise daily. Information on international cases is available from World Health Organization and information on US cases is available from CDC. So far, there have been no deaths in the US.

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a potentially serious viral illness that usually includes flu-like symptoms, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash that includes bumps that are initially fluid-filled before scabbing over. The disease can be confused with a sexually transmitted infection, such as syphilis or herpes, or with chicken pox. Most infections last two to four weeks.

How is monkeypox spread?

Monkeypox is spread in different ways. The monkeypox virus is most often spread through direct contact with a rash or sores on someone who has the virus.

It can also spread through contact with clothing, bedding, and other items used by a person with monkeypox, or by respiratory droplets that can be transmitted through prolonged face-to-face contact, including kissing, cuddling, or sex.

It is also possible for people to get monkeypox from infected animals, either by being scratched or bitten by the animal, or by eating meat or using products from an infected animal.

People who do not have symptoms of monkeypox cannot spread the virus to others.

According to the CDC, early data suggest that gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men account for a large number of cases. However, anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk.

What should people with concerns do?

People can take basic steps to prevent the spread of monkeypox. Anyone who fears they have been exposed or infected should refrain from intimate or close personal contact and seek medical attention. If you do not have a health care provider, you can visit a parish health center near you. Standard household cleaners and detergents are effective in cleaning environmentally friendly surfaces and linens.

If you are waiting for test results, follow the same precautions.

If you test positive, stay in isolation until your rash heals, any scabs fall off, and a new layer of intact skin forms.

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

Symptoms of monkeypox can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and back pain
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Shivering
  • Exhaustion
  • A rash that may look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, mouth, and other parts of the body, such as the arms, legs, chest, genitals, or anus

Sometimes people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others experience only a rash. Some cases in the current outbreak in the US have had only isolated rashes on the genital area or other parts of the body.

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