TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—The Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD) has announced the discovery of the first case of monkeypox in the county.  

Monkeypox is a viral infection that is spread through close physical contact between individuals. As of July 19, a total of 679 New York state-confirmed monkeypox cases have been identified, with 639 in New York City and smaller numbers in several New York State counties. There have been no monkeypox-related deaths reported in New York State.

According to a press release, TCHD has completed the case investigation and concluded that there have been no local close contacts. TCHD is encouraging residents to be aware of the symptoms and take steps to reduce the risk of contracting the infection. 

Monkeypox is spread through skin-to-skin contact with infected individuals who have monkeypox sores or rashes, and being within three feet of an infected person, as respiratory droplets and oral fluids are contagious. Sexual activity with multiple, casual partners significantly increases risk of infection. 

Symptoms of monkeypox include rashes, bumps, or blisters on or around the genitals or in other areas including hands, feet, chest, or face which are not clearly due to another known cause; swollen lymph glands; and flu-like symptoms, like a fever, headache, chills, fatigue and muscle aches, which may occur before or after the rash appears, or not at all. The disease is contagious from the onset of symptoms or rash until the rash scabs have dried up and fallen off and the skin is healing well underneath.

It may take 21 days from exposure to develop signs of the infection. When left untreated, monkeypox can cause severe illness, hospitalization and, rarely, death. Treatments are available for people who are infected, including antiviral medication and vaccines are available for high-risk individuals.

According to the New York State Department of Health, a majority of monkeypox cases have occurred within populations of men who have sex with other men, however, it has also been spread man to woman, and woman to woman and without sexual relations.

Community members can reduce the risk of monkeypox by avoiding close face-to-face and skin-to-skin contact with someone who has a monkeypox-related rash or other symptoms; avoiding traveling to areas where monkeypox is present and asking sexual partners if they have a rash or symptoms consistent with monkeypox 

TCHD Director Frank Kruppa said community members should take precautions to prevent infections and contact health providers if they are exposed or believe they have symptoms. 

“We are continuing to ask local health care providers to be aware of the symptoms and risk factors and be alert that monkeypox is spreading in New York State,” Kruppa said. “Providers can order tests for monkeypox in coordination with the Health Department.”