The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) on Monday said it has identified the state’s first likely case of monkeypox in an Ohio man.
As with all probable cases of monkeypox, samples have been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmatory testing, with the results pending.
The infected man is currently isolating, according to ODH.
“What I want to emphasize strongly is that monkeypox does not spread easily between people, and so the risk to Ohioans generally is very low,” ODH Director Bruce Vanderhoff said.
Throughout the current outbreak, most states have been testing for orthopoxvirus, the family of viruses which monkeypox belongs to. If orthopoxvirus is confirmed, then samples are sent to CDC to test for monkeypox.
Over 60 cases of monkeypox have been identified in the U.S. Cases have been identified in 18 states and territories, including California; Washington, D.C.; Florida; Georgia; Oklahoma and Texas.
Monkeypox is primarily spread through contact with an infected individual’s skin, clothing or bedsheets. However, it can also spread through the air on rare occasion if a person forms monkeypox lesions inside their mouth or throat, though this occurrence is much less likely.
Infections typically last between two and four weeks and the mortality rate for the pathogen is very low. Vaccines and medication believed to be effective against monkeypox have been mobilized.
Most monkeypox cases in the U.S. and Europe, countries where the virus is not endemic, have been identified among men who have sex with men, though the sexuality of the infected individual in Ohio was not shared on Monday. Despite this trend, health officials have repeatedly stressed that monkeypox is not a “gay disease” as it can be spread through any form of prolonged skin contact with an infected individual.
Health authorities in Europe have speculated that the virus is spreading through social networks, particularly among gay and bisexual men. Some infected individuals have reported not knowing how they could have contracted the virus, indicating the possibility of community spread.