The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), have announced a single presumptive monkeypox case in an adult male Chicago resident with a recent travel history to Europe. Initial testing was completed on June 1 at an IDPH laboratory, and confirmatory testing for monkeypox is pending at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Based on initial epidemiologic characteristics and the positive orthopoxvirus result at IDPH, health officials consider this a probable monkeypox infection.

Both CDPH and IDPH are working closely with the CDC and the patient’s healthcare providers to identify individuals with whom the patient may have been in contact while they were infectious. Contact tracing is appropriate given the nature and transmission of the virus. The person did not require hospitalization and is isolating at home in good condition. No further details relating to the patient will be disclosed, to protect patient confidentiality.

The case remains isolated and at this time, there is no indication of a significant risk of extensive local spread of the virus, as monkeypox does not spread as easily as the COVID-19 virus. Person to person transmission is possible through close physical contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores, items that have been contaminated with fluids or sores, such as bedding or clothing, or through respiratory droplets following prolonged face-to-face contact.

Monkeypox is a rare, but potentially serious viral illness, which belongs to the Orthopoxvirus family. It typically begins with flu-like symptoms and swelling of the lymph nodes and evolves into a rash on the face and body. Most infections last 2 to 4 weeks. Monkeypox is typically common to parts of central and west Africa and people can be exposed through bites or scratches from rodents and small mammals, preparing wild game or having contact with an infected animal or animal products.

Beginning in 2022, multiple cases of monkeypox have been reported in several countries that do not normally report monkeypox, including the United States. On May 18, a U.S. resident tested positive for monkeypox after returning to the U.S. from Canada. As of June 2, the CDC has reported 19 confirmed cases of orthopox/monkeypox across multiple states, including California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.

People who have a new or unexplained rash, sores, or symptoms, or have a confirmed exposure should see a healthcare provider, remind them that the virus is circulating in the community, and avoid sex or being intimate with anyone until they have been seen. If a person or their partner has monkeypox, they should follow the treatment and prevention recommendations outlined by their healthcare provider and avoid sex or being intimate with anyone until all sores have healed or have a fresh layer of skin formed.

Suspected cases may present with early flu-like symptoms and progress to lesions that may begin on one site on the body and spread to other parts. Illness could be clinically confused with a sexually transmitted infection like syphilis or herpes, or with varicella zoster virus.

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