The first presumptive case of monkeypox in South Florida is being investigated in Broward County, health officials announced Sunday.
The Florida Department of Health in Broward and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating the case, which officials said is related to international travel.
The patient was isolated as DOH-Broward conducts epidemiological investigations to notify possible exposures and offers potential post-exposure prophylaxis, officials said.
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus, part of the same family as smallpox, though typically less severe.
"What’s going on now is surprising cause we are seeing a spread from human to human and it has spread faster than I’ve ever seen," said Dr. Aileen Marty, an Infectious Disease Expert from Florida International University.
"The important thing to understand is it has a long incubation period," Marty said. "It can be as early as five days and as long as 21 days."
At this time, DOH-Broward has not yet identified any additional cases in the county.
According to a statement from DOH-Broward, there is likely cross-protection against monkeypox for individuals who received the smallpox vaccine.
DOH-Broward also says the risk of exposure remains low, because human-to-human transmission generally requires prolonged, face-to-face contact, direct contact with lesion materials, or indirect contact with lesion materials through contaminated items, such as contaminated clothing.
Monkeypox is not generally considered a sexually transmitted disease, though it can be passed on during sex.
DOH-Broward advises that health care providers should remain vigilant of monkeypox symptoms, especially among individuals with relevant travel history.
At a news conference Monday, Broward Health interim chief medical officer Dr. Joshua Lenchus said Monkeypox is extremely rare and significantly less infectious than Covid but urged anyone who may have been exposed to see a physician.
"Some of the measures that we take are the same measures that we would take during this Covid era, it's the masks, it's the respiratory isolation room, it's hand washing, it's gown, gloves and eye protection," Lenchus said.
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