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Monkeypox confirmed in Chattanooga area as virus spreads rapidly across U.S.

Chattanooga Times Free Press - 8/2/2022

Aug. 2—Three cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in the Chattanooga area, according to a Tuesday announcement from the Hamilton County Health Department.

Department staff are currently investigating the cases and working to alert close contacts who might have been exposed to the virus, which been spreading across the United States since May, according to a news release from the department.

"Monkeypox is a rare but potentially serious viral illness that typically begins with flu-like illness and swelling of the lymph nodes and progresses to a rash on the face and body," the release states, noting that an infection can last up to four weeks.

Until the last three months, monkeypox was rarely reported in the United States and was primarily associated with international travel to areas of the world where it's more common, according to health officials.

As of Tuesday morning, the U.S. had 5,811 total confirmed cases associated with this outbreak, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. New York is the current epicenter of the outbreak with 1,390 confirmed cases as of Tuesday.

"We have been anticipating and preparing for monkeypox to reach our community. Overall, the risk to our population is low, but be mindful that monkeypox is a disease that can affect any individual," Dr. Stephen Miller, Hamilton County Health Department health officer, said in the news release.

Monkeypox transmission occurs mainly through direct physical contact with an infected person or by touching objects, fabrics, and surfaces used by someone with the virus. It can also spread through respiratory fluid.

Infection may begin with fever, headache, muscle aches and fatigue, and symptoms usually appear within three weeks of exposure.

People who suspect they're infected or who believe they were exposed to someone with monkeypox should seek medical treatment and be tested, although the illness typically resolves on its own.

Vaccines are available but due to limited supply the health department is currently only providing them to people who have been in close contact or exposed to an infected person, according to the news release.

People seeking vaccination who believe they were exposed can call the health department hotline at 423-209-8383.

This is a developing story. Stay with the Times Free Press for updates.


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