Gem State Roundup

Idaho reports a first case of what appears to be local monkeypox transmission

By: - July 29, 2022 3:55 am
photos of monkeypox lesions that look like pimples, ingrown hairs, scabs

The monkeypox virus causes lesions that can resemble sores from acne, an ingrown hair or other viruses. They are infectious until the scab is fully healed. (UK Health Security Agency/CDC)

Editor’s note: The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported Aug. 2 that a handling error at the Idaho Bureau of Laboratories caused two patients’ monkeypox test results to be swapped. The patient who received a false positive was this Canyon County case; in fact, there was no monkeypox infection detected as of Aug. 2 in the Southwest District Health region that includes Canyon County.

A person in Canyon County appears to have caught the monkeypox virus, in what would be Idaho’s first identified case of local transmission.

The Southwest District Health public health department reported the case Friday in a news release.

“The investigation is ongoing. Local and state public health officials are working with the patient’s healthcare providers to ensure the patient is treated and any potential close contacts are identified and notified of exposure risk,” the department said.

A spokesperson for the department told the Idaho Capital Sun, “Currently, no travel has been identified at this time in the investigation.”

The department also reminded the public that most people recover at home after a mild illness. There are antiviral medications available, but public health officials encourage vaccination for people who have been exposed to monkeypox. “Individuals with monkeypox should self-isolate until their lesions have fully healed with new skin where the lesions used to be,” it said.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday reported more than 4,900 cases of the monkeypox virus in the U.S. Three of those cases were in Idaho.

State and local health officials on July 6 announced the first probable case of monkeypox in Idaho, in a person living in the Central District Health region. The patient was believed to have caught monkeypox during travel to another country. At the time, there were more than 560 known cases of monkeypox in the U.S.

There are many differences between the monkeypox virus and the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19. Still, observers have noted some parallels between the early outbreaks of both infectious diseases. For instance, monkeypox testing has been limited, and it is unclear how many cases are going undetected, allowing for more transmission. However, the smallpox vaccine is effective against monkeypox, so immunizations do not need to be developed from scratch.

Members of Congress have been slow to react to the growing monkeypox outbreak, States Newsroom reported Thursday.

“Public health officials in the Biden administration have held several briefings, expanded testing capacity to nationwide commercial laboratories, distributed more than 200,000 vaccine doses and begun ordering millions more for the national stockpile,” according to States Newsroom reporting.

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Audrey Dutton
Audrey Dutton

Audrey Dutton, senior investigative reporter, joined the Idaho Capital Sun after 10 years at the Idaho Statesman. Her favorite topics to cover include health care, business, consumer protection issues and white collar crime. Dutton hails from Twin Falls. She attended college at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and received a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University in New York City. Before coming home to Idaho, Dutton worked as a journalist in Minnesota, New York, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Dutton's work has earned dozens of state, regional and national awards for investigative reporting, health care and business reporting, data visualization and more.

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