The agency said current CDC data shows there have been 84 monkeypox cases in the United States, including “the first identified case in Massachusetts which was confirmed on May 18.”
No one has died from the virus in the US or abroad, according to the statement.
“Although many of the early cases were associated with international travel, recent cases are not,” the statement said. “Gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men make up a large proportion of the cases identified to date. However, the risk is not limited to the LGBTQ community, and anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk.”
According to the statement, DPH starting this week will begin posting data every Thursday online, including “case counts and other important information.”
The statement said monkeypox can spread through direct skin-to-skin contact with rash lesions caused by the virus; sexual or intimate contact, including kissing while a person is infected; sharing a bed, towels, or unwashed clothing; and respiratory “secretions through face-to-face interactions,” the statement said.
Officials said the virus does not spread though casual conversations, walking by someone who’s infected in a public place such as a grocery store, or touching items like doorknobs.
Early symptoms of the virus can include fever, headache, sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes, but a rash may be the first symptom, the statement said. Rash lesions start out flat, become raised, fill with clear fluid, and then become filled with pus. An infected person can have many lesions or just a few, officials said.
State officials are urging the public to take steps to minimize their risk of transmission, including avoiding large gatherings like raves and dance parties where people may have “lots of close body contact” with others, the statement said.
People are also urged to ask any intimate partner, especially new partners with unfamiliar health and travel histories, if they have monkeypox symptoms, per the statement.
“As the CDC advises, if you believe you may have monkeypox, you should contact your health care provider,” the statement said. “… Clinicians should consult with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health at 617-983-6800 to determine if testing is indicated. Consultation is required before submitting specimens.”
Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.