While Chicago health officials stress that the risk of monkeypox remains “low,” the city’s Department of Public Health announced it is advising the public to take precautions after five more cases were reported across the city.
In a press release Monday, CDPH confirmed that at least seven cases have been identified in Chicago, a significant increase from the two cases reported in previous weeks. Health officials said seven cases involved individuals who had recently traveled to Europe, and the first two appeared to be related to each other.
A Chicago resident was diagnosed with monkeypox after attending the International Mr. Leather Conference, which took place May 26-30 in the city, and other cases linked to the event have been reported.
Health experts said monkeypox is a rare but potentially serious viral disease that often begins with flu-like symptoms and swollen lymph nodes and progresses to a rash on the face and body. It was first observed in Africa in 1970, and is usually found in the western and central parts of the continent.
The CDC is on alert after cases of the virus were reported in several countries that normally don’t report monkeypox cases, including the United States.
In a press release, CDPH Commissioner Dr Allsion Arwady said that although the risk is “low,” CDPH wants the public to make informed choices about congregating in places where monkeypox can spread through close contact.
Individuals who attend festivals or other summer events should consider the potential for close and personal skin-to-skin contact at the events they plan to attend, according to health officials. If someone feels sick or develops a rash or sores, CDPH recommends not attending any gathering, and seeing a health care provider as soon as possible.
A total of 33 countries have reported more than 1,450 confirmed cases, and in the United States, 49 cases have been reported in 16 states plus the District of Columbia. Most of the individuals experienced mild symptoms and no one died.
“Usually, in a normal year, we would see a few cases mostly in West Africa that are associated with animals,” Arwady previously said. “There are animals that can carry them and we will see, you know, a few dozen cases that people can get just by coming into contact with animals. And the reason for the increased interest is that at this point, there have been somewhere in the 100 cases that have been identified that are not related to the usual way that we watch It has monkeypox.”
The virus is rarely fatal, and symptoms range from fever, aches, and rashes all over the body.
CDPH said person-to-person transmission is possible through “close physical contact with monkeypox sores, fluid-contaminated items or sores (clothing, bedding, etc.), or through respiratory droplets after direct face-to-face contact.”
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