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Health+Harvest

Illinois healthcare providers advised to watch for potential monkeypox cases

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The Illinois Department of Public Health says it is working with other health agencies to investigate suspected cases of the monkeypox virus. As of Thursday, IDPH reported a total of ten Illinois. Eight of those have been confirmed by the CDC. All are in the Chicago area.

An effort to identify those who may have been in contact with the infected individuals continues. Officials say the threat to the general public remains low. The CDC as of Thursday reported 84 cases in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Most have mild symptoms. There have been no deaths.

Healthcare providers are urged to watch for patients with rashes consistent with the virus.

Monkeypox is rare, but the virus can spread through close contact. According to the CDC, anyone regardless of sexual orientation can spread monkeypox through contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores, or shared items (such as clothing and bedding) that have been contaminated with fluids or sores of a person with monkeypox. Monkeypox virus can also spread between people through respiratory droplets typically in a close setting, such as the same household or a healthcare setting. Common household disinfectants can kill the monkeypox virus.

Monkeypox is a rare but potentially serious viral illness that typically begins with flu-like illness and swelling of the lymph nodes and progresses to a rash on the face and body. Most infections last 2-to-4 weeks. In parts of central and west Africa where monkeypox occurs, people can be exposed through bites or scratches from rodents and small mammals, preparing wild game, or having contact with an infected animal or possibly animal products. The virus does not spread easily between people; transmission can occur through contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores, items that have been contaminated with fluids or sores (clothing, bedding, etc.), or through respiratory droplets following prolonged face-to-face contact.

What people should do:

• People who may have symptoms of monkeypox, particularly men who report sex with other men, and those who have close contact with them, should be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and contact their healthcare provider for a risk assessment.

What healthcare providers should do:

• If healthcare providers identify patients with a rash that looks like monkeypox, consider monkeypox, regardless of whether the patient has a travel history to central or west African countries.

• Do not limit concerns to men who report having sex with other men. Those who have any sort of close personal contact with people with monkeypox could potentially also be at risk for the disease.

• Some patients have had genital lesions and the rash may be hard to distinguish from syphilis, herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection, chancroid, varicella zoster, and other more common infections.

• Isolate any patients suspected of having monkeypox in a negative pressure room, and ensure staff understand the importance of wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and that they wear it each time they are near suspected cases.

• Consult the state health department or CDC’s monkeypox call center through the CDC Emergency Operations Center (770-488-7100) as soon as monkeypox is suspected.

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