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First case of monkeypox virus confirmed in McLean County

A patient with a monkeypox sore rests at a hospital in Peru earlier this month.
Martin Mejia
A patient with a monkeypox sore rests at a hospital in Peru earlier this month.

The first case of monkeypox virus has been confirmed in McLean County, public health officials said Friday.

No specifics were released about the case. The McLean County Health Department said it’s collaborating with the Illinois Department of Public Health to complete contact tracing for the case to identify any close contacts and provide vaccines to those identified as an exposure risk.

“The monkeypox virus does not spread as easily between people as what we have seen with the virus that causes COVID-19,” Jessica McKnight, administrator of McLean County Health Department, said in a statement Friday. “But anyone in close contact with a person with MPV can get it regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.”

There have been just over 1,000 monkeypox cases identified statewide. Until now, the closest known case was in nearby Woodford County, announced two weeks ago. The White House declared monkeypox a public health emergency on Aug. 4, amid a global outbreak.

According to the CDC, person-to-person transmission is possible through close physical contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores, items that have been contaminated with fluids or sores (clothing, bedding, etc.), or through respiratory droplets following prolonged face-to-face contact.

Monkeypox symptoms usually start within three weeks of exposure to the virus. You may experience all or only a few of the symptoms of monkeypox:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion

A rash that can look like pimples or blisters can appear on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.
People who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others. However, anyone in close contact with a person with monkeypox can get it and should take steps to protect themselves.

Vaccine eligibility remains limited at this time.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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