First probable case of monkeypox identified in Michigan

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

The Michigan Department of Heath and Human Services announced Wednesday that it had identified the first probable monkeypox case in the state as officials monitor a global outbreak of the rare disease.

The case in Michigan involves an Oakland County resident, according to the state health department.

Preliminary testing returned a positive result for Orthopoxvirus. Monkeypox belongs to the Orthopoxvirus family of viruses and confirmatory testing is underway, according to a news release from the department.

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"Monkeypox is a viral illness that spreads primarily through direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, bodily fluids or prolonged face-to-face contact," said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan's chief medical executive. "It is important to remember that the risk to the general public is low. However, Michiganders with concerns about monkeypox should see their provider to be evaluated for testing.”  

The Oakland County individual is isolating and does not pose a risk to the public, according to the state health department, which is working with local health departments to notify close contacts.

No further details about the individual will be provided by the agency.

Since the beginning of a global outbreak, 5,115 monkeypox cases have been confirmed in 51 countries, including the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported there were 306 confirmed cases in 27 states and Washington, D.C. 

Infection can begin with flu-like symptoms and swelling of the lymph nodes that progresses to a rash on the face and body, according to the state health department Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion and a rash that can look like pimples or blisters.

Symptoms generally appear one to two weeks after exposure and infection, and the rash often lasts two to four weeks, the health department said.

Persons experiencing monkeypox symptoms should contact their health care provider for evaluation.

Anyone can contract and spread monkeypox, but early data from the outbreak suggest that men who have sex with men make up a high number of initial cases, the health department said on Wednesday.

The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970, according to the CDC.

Prior to the 2022 outbreak, nearly all monkeypox cases in people outside of Africa were linked to international travel to countries, where the disease commonly occurs or through imported animals, the CDC said.