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RACINE, WI — Officials with the City of Racine Public Health Department have identified the first confirmed case of monkeypox (orthopoxvirus) in Racine County. Still, the risk to the general public remains low at this time.

In the current outbreak, 18 cases have been confirmed in Wisconsin as of July 28, 2022, with 5,189 cases confirmed nationally as of Saturday. Kenosha County recently saw its first case as well.

Public health officer Dottie-Kay Bowersox underscored that the rare disease is potentially dangerous. The person affected by the disease is in isolation, and contact tracing is being done to limit the transmission, according to a press release from the City of Racine Health Department.

“We are taking monkeypox very seriously, and the City of Racine Public Health Department is working proactively to protect the public and prevent further spread of the disease,” Bowersox said. “Public health is well positioned to meet the evolving health needs of our community through disease investigation strategies.”  

What is monkeypox

People who contract the rare virus develop a skin rash, lesions, fever, chills and/or swollen lymph nodes.

Monkeypox spreads in a few ways, according to the Center for Disease Control:

  • Monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact, including:
    • Direct contact with a rash, scabs, or body fluids from a person with monkeypox.
    • Touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces used by someone with the disease.
    • Contact with respiratory secretions.
  • This direct contact can happen during intimate contact, including:
    • Oral, anal, and vaginal sex or touching the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus (butthole) of a person with monkeypox.
    • Hugging, massage, and kissing.
    • Prolonged face-to-face contact.
    • Touching fabrics and objects that were used by a person with monkeypox during sex and that have not been disinfected, such as bedding, towels, fetish gear, and sex toys.
  • A pregnant person can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta.

How long does it take to recover?

People typically recover in two to four weeks without needing treatment. Healthcare providers can use vaccines and antiviral medications to prevent and treat the disease. But they have a limited supply of vaccines in the United States. However, more is expected to become available.

How to avoid getting monkeypox

The City of Racine Public Health Department recommends the following actions for people to consider if they want to reduce their risk of monkeypox include: 

  • Avoiding large gatherings like raves and dance parties where you may have lots of close body contact with others.
  • Asking any partner, especially new partners whose health status and recent travel history you are not familiar with, if they have any symptoms of monkeypox.
  • Staying informed by reading information available on the www.cdc.gov website. 

More information from the state Health Department is available at https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/outbreaks/index.htm


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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.