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Despite Oconto County monkeypox exposure, Bellin Health expert says don't panic

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Posted at 5:51 PM, Jun 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-10 19:28:40-04

OCONTO COUNTY (NBC 26) — Health officials reported that a person who tested positive for monkeypox visited Oconto County.

They say the person was contagious, but the exposure is isolated and the individual does not live in Wisconsin.

This new monkeypox outbreak began last month. More than 1,300 people globally — including 45 in the U.S. — have contracted it. But a Bellin Health infectious disease physician says despite this case, people should not panic.

"I would reassure people that they don't need to be worried that monkeypox is going to be this huge pandemic," Bellin Health infectious disease physician Dr. Michael Landrum said.

Landrum says that's because it's not as contagious as COVID-19.

You're exposed to it by being in very close contact with someone who is infected.

In some cases, he says it could take several hours to be exposed.

"I mean it's a different virus," Landrum said. "It requires longer contact."

Wisconsin does not have any confirmed cases of monkeypox right now.

"The main, natural place where monkeypox hangs out is in rodents, and then humans and monkeys are kind of secondary," UW Health infectious prevention medical director Dan Shirley said.

But Shirley says the Badger State did have an outbreak in 2003.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 39 of the 71 total cases that year were in Wisconsin.

"No one got really sick, which is the majority of the cases of monkeypox," Shirley said.

But Landrum says it can be deadly, particularly for those with chronic health problems.

"No one in the current outbreak as far as I'm aware in the United States has died from monkeypox," Landrum said.

Symptoms include a fever, fatigue, coughing, and swollen lymph nodes. Experts say you should really keep an eye on a rash that develops into blisters all over the body.

"That is what is unique about monkeypox is that is the way the rash looks," Landrum said.

Landrum says we don't know how this current outbreak started, but adds it is more common in gay and bisexual men.

According to the CDC, it can take up to three weeks to see symptoms of monkeypox. Infection can last a month.

Experts say the smallpox vaccine can protect people from getting monkeypox.