HELENA – State health officials report the monkeypox virus has arrived in Montana.
The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) and Flathead City-County Health Department today confirmed a single presumptive case of monkeypox virus infection in a Flathead County adult.
Initial testing was completed on Friday at the Montana State Public Health Laboratory and confirmatory testing will occur next with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to DPHHS.
DPHHS officials state in a news release the department “is working closely with local public health and the patient’s health care provider to identify individuals who may have been in contact with the patient while they were infectious.”
The patient did not require hospitalization and is now isolating at home. To protect patient confidentiality, no further details related to the patient will be disclosed.
As of August 4, 2022, CDC reports 7,102 cases of monkeypox/orthopoxvirus in 48 other U.S. states. In recent months, more than 26,519 cases have been reported in 81 countries where the disease is not typically reported.
Symptoms of monkeypox can include fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion, and a rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appear on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body.
The illness typically lasts two-to-four weeks and most people get better on their own without treatment. At times, monkeypox can cause scars from the sores, the development of secondary infections, such as pneumonia, or other complications.
The virus does not easily spread between people with casual contact, but transmission can occur through contact with infectious sores and body fluids; contaminated items, such as clothing or bedding; or through respiratory droplets associated with prolonged face-to-face contact.
“Early recognition of the characteristic monkeypox rash by patients and clinicians is necessary to minimize transmission of this virus,” said DPHHS acting State Medical Officer Dr. Maggie Cook-Shimanek. “Anyone with symptoms of monkeypox should isolate from others and immediately consult a healthcare provider.”
Because monkeypox transmission requires close and prolonged contact, close-knit social networks have been particularly impacted.
There is no treatment specifically for monkeypox. But because monkeypox and smallpox viruses are closely related, antiviral drugs (such as tecovirimat) and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox may be used to prevent and treat monkeypox virus infections. The need for treatment will depend on how sick someone gets or whether they are likely to get severely ill.
DPHHS is pre-positioning a supply of tecovirimat in the state for use, if necessary, the news release states. CDC does not recommend widespread vaccination against monkeypox at this time. However, vaccination may be recommended for some people who have been exposed to the monkeypox virus.
According to the CDC, the monkeypox virus is spreading mostly through close, intimate contact with someone who has monkeypox.
Montanans can take steps to prevent getting monkeypox. Anyone with a rash that looks like monkeypox should talk to their healthcare provider, even if they don’t think they had contact with someone who has monkeypox.
A person who is sick with monkeypox should isolate at home. If they have an active rash or other symptoms, they should be in a separate room or area from other family members and pets, when possible.