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Connecticut records first case of monkeypox

A man in his 40s has contracted Connecticut’s first recorded case of monkeypox, state health officials said Tuesday.

The patient is a resident of New Haven County. He is isolating and has not been hospitalized.

The state’s Public Health Department “believes that the risk to Connecticut residents from this case is low,” said Dr. Manisha Juthani, the health commissioner. “The United States is currently experiencing a monkeypox outbreak, and there will likely be additional cases in Connecticut in the weeks ahead.”

Monkeypox can spread through prolonged close contact with an infected person. This might include contact with skin lesions or body fluids, sharing clothes or other materials that have been used by an infected person, or inhaling respiratory droplets during prolonged face-to-face contact, Juthani said.

Symptoms include fever, headache, chills, exhaustion, muscle ache and back ache, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash that can look like pimples or blisters and shows up on the face, hands, feet, chest, genitals or inside of the mouth.

“I know a lot of people are tired of hearing about viruses,” Juthani said at a press conference Tuesday. “But what we do know right now is that in the setting of COVID, people were socially distanced for a long period of time and there are a number of viruses that are coming back. We’re seeing young children getting viruses that they haven’t had for years; adults are having them.

“The clear message right now is that the risk to the general public is pretty low. But you do need to be alert and aware.”

The health department has notified medical professionals in Connecticut about the disease and informed local health districts to monitor for cases.

A week ago, cities nationwide began offering vaccinations against monkeypox to people who may have been exposed to the virus, The New York Times reported. Prior to that, the shots were only made available to those with a known exposure.

Supply of the vaccines has been limited, however. The Department of Health and Human services said it would provide 56,000 doses of the Jynneos vaccine immediately and an additional 240,000 doses in the coming weeks. Another 750,000 doses are expected to become available over the summer, and a total of 1.6 million doses by the end of this year, the Times reported.

As of Friday, 30 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, had recorded at least one case of monkeypox. States with the highest number of cases include Florida, New York, Illinois and California, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nationwide, 457 cases of monkeypox have been recorded. The data from Friday do not include Connecticut’s case.

Connecticut residents who are concerned about fever, swollen glands or a new rash should contact their health care provider for an evaluation. Medical providers can request orthopoxvirus testing for patients at the state public health laboratory by calling 860-509-7994.

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