A Platte County man is the first in the state of Missouri to be infected with monkeypox, officials announced last week.
Platte County Health Department Director Mary Jo Everhart, Karen Payne, nursing supervisor, and Julia Adams, communicable disease coordinator, released information Friday concerning the victim.
Due to confidentiality, the health department couldn’t release specific information. The department did say however the victim is a 38-year-old male who contracted monkeypox from a prairie dog who served as a family pet. The male, according to officials, is under isolation. All animals at the home are also being quarantined.
Exposure to the illness occurred when the family received a prairie dog from Phil’s Pocket Pets in Vista Park, Ill., in May. The prairie dog had become ill and died several days after being purchased. The family had an existing prairie dog, which then contracted the monkeypox virus and became the source of infection for the man.
The health department collected human samples on June 13. Confirmation that the individual had been exposed to monkeypox came last Thursday.
“This family has been very cooperative,” Everhart said. “There is no treatment for monkeypox. He is just trying to practice good hand washing techniques and trying to keep his wounds good and dry. A physician evaluated him at his home on Thursday.”
The prairie dog that was suspected of transmitting monkeypox was euthanized and sent to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing. None of the other animals currently show signs of infection, but will be kept in quarantine at the home and screened for symptoms until July 18.
A raccoon, a dog and puppies, a cat and other non human mammals on the property have been subject to the quarantine.
Monkeypox cannot be contracted by physical contact. In fact, human to human transmissions are very low. Monkeypox has a 1-10 percent fatality rate.
In February Platte County Health Department officials received the smallpox vaccine, which has been reported to reduce the risk of monkeypox .
Monkeypox is a rare viral disease that occurs mainly in the rain forest countries of central and west Africa. Monkeypox was first discovered in laboratory monkeys in 1958. Studies show that the virus also could infect mice, rats, and rabbits. In 1970, monkeypox was reported in humans for the first time. Monkeypox is similar to smallpox, although it is often milder. Monkeypox causes lymph nodes to swell. The incubation period for monkeypox is about 12 days.
Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, a general feeling of discomfort and exhaustion.
Within one to three days after the appearance of fever, a rash will develop, often first on the face.
One concern that Platte County Health Department officials have is that owners of prairie dogs will release their pets in fear they are inflicted with monkeypox.
“Look at when you purchased the prairie dog and who you purchased it from. Talk to your vet,” Adams said.
Officials also say that people with ill prairie dogs should not release them.
The Missouri Department of Agriculture is contacting pet stores and auctions in the state to remind them that there is a nationwide ban on the distribution, sale and transport of prairie dogs and six specific African rodent species. The department also is reminding pet store owners to monitor their animals for any sign of disease.