HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Department of Health is investigating a third probable case of monkeypox.
The first case, which the CDC confirmed as monkeypox, was reported on Friday, June 3 and the second, still identified as a probable case, was reported Wednesday, June 8.
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On Friday, DOH reported the first individual was recovering in isolation at Tripler Army Medical Center with symptoms consistent with the virus. The individual had recently traveled to another state with confirmed cases of monkeypox.
Dr. Libby Char said the third individual has no recent travel history, so it may be in our community. Dr. Char also said, though, the risk is low for most Hawaii residents.
According to Char, testing for the second and third cases revealed that these individuals have Orthodox and they’ve sent tests to the CDC to find out if they too have monkeypox.
All three individuals are Oahu adult residents.
“This case does not have a history of travel and we are investigating links between this third case and the first two cases,” said Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Nathan Tan. “Individuals at increased risk should avoid anonymous sexual contact or events where individuals may have close bodily contact with others.”
The virus is primarily spread through direct contact with infectious sores, scabs or body fluids. It’s also spread through respiratory droplets of an infected person.
Joe Elm, DOH’s Disease Investigation Supervisor said it’s a rare disease.
“Infection begins with flu like symptoms, swollen lymph glands and progresses to rash sores often on the hands and feet chest and genitals. Individuals generally become ill within 21 days of exposure.”
He said flu like may include body aches, fever and chills, that may last three to five days, followed by the rash.
“Once the the rash appears and oral lesions marks the time when the person is going to be most infectious,” said Elm.
Anyone with symptoms similar with monkeypox should contact their healthcare provider immediately.
While risk to most residents remains low, Tan said their is segment of the population at higher risk.
“Nationwide, most cases have been among gay and bisexual men. You know, the LGBT+ community should be aware of the possibility of increased risk and take precautions,” Tan said.
While many of the confirmed monkeypox cases in the U.S. are in the LGBT community, Heather Lusk the executive director of Hawaii Health & Harm Reduction Center wanted to remind people that it’s not who they are but what they do that puts them at risk.
“We appreciate the attention to the LGBT community because it has disproportionately impacted them thus far. But we don’t believe it’s because they’re LGBT it happened,” Lusk explained.
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“I just don’t want us to repeat some of the early mistakes of the HIV epidemic where HIV was really labeled a gay disease, and that had a lot of ripple effect stigma,” said Lusk.