La Crosse health officials monitoring monkeypox as virus is found in the Coulee Region

Published: Aug. 11, 2022 at 4:48 PM CDT
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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) - The monkeypox outbreak being experienced across the country has made its way to La Crosse County.

The La Crosse County Health Department (LCHD) identified the first case of monkeypox in the Coulee Region Wednesday, with health officials working with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and other partners on disease investigation follow-up.

Aside from a few isolated cases last year, the U.S. hasn’t seen an outbreak of monkeypox since 2003, but numbers from nearly 20 years ago pale in comparison to what’s been reported over the last few months.

Since May, more than 10,000 monkeypox cases have been identified in nearly every state, with 31 of those coming from Wisconsin.

Public Health Nurse Bridget Cardinali with the LCHD doesn’t believe La Crosse County will remain at just one case for very long.

“It’s a contagious virus, so we are expecting it to increase,” Cardinali said. “With the way it’s contracted, we would expect so see an increase in cases, there’s about a 21 day timespan from exposure to symptoms, so 21 days where they could actually be shedding that virus and causing the spread.”

Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, chills, muscle aches, headache, exhaustion, and a rash that can develop into skin lesions.

The virus is mainly contracted through direct skin contact with someone who has a rash, or by touching objects, like clothing or bedding, that were used by someone with monkeypox.

There is a vaccine that can help prevent the spread, but Cardinali says La Crosse County has a limited amount.

“The availability is quite low right now, the supply isn’t there,” Cardinali explained. “We ae looking at making sure the most high-risk individuals receive the vaccine, so if they’re identified as a close contact, they’re eligible to receive the vaccine.”

While risk to the public remains low at this time, there is some concern about the return of college students in a few weeks resulting in an increased amount of monkeypox cases.

“We’re definitely thinking about that, and we’re trying to get the information out to all the agencies that can help spread information about what to look for, how to prevent it,” Cardinali said.

Anyone experiencing monkeypox symptoms, or who may have been in close contact with someone that has the virus, is urged to contact their healthcare provider or the La Crosse County Health Department.

More information about monkeypox can be found here.

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