HONOLULU (KHON2) — Monkeypox could be spreading in the islands.

The Hawaii Department of Health announced Wednesday that it’s looking into a second probable case of the disease. Officials said this person is an Oahu resident who had close contact with the first probable case.

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According to DOH monkeypox can spread “through close, prolonged contact with an infected person or animal. This includes direct contact with body fluids, lesion material, or items used by someone with monkeypox. Monkeypox can be spread through large respiratory droplets. These droplets generally cannot travel more than a few feet, so prolonged face-to-face contact is required.”

Those surfaces can include public spaces that lots of people touch, like toilet seats.

“Monkeypox is a — is a virus that is transmitted primarily by kind of contact with infected bodily secretions or body fluids,” UH Manoa Department of Tropical Medicine professor Axel Lehrer said. “Since pox viruses cause these lesions where you have blisters and so on, that’s how it could be transmitted. So technically, I think a toilet seat could be a source and these viruses also stay around for a little while.”

If your summer plans this year include swimming, try not to share towels. Lehrer said the pool itself should be safe.

“Swimming pool should be no issue. I mean, there’s chlorine in there. That will take care of viruses like the monkeypox virus,” Lehrer said.

Symptoms usually include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Rash or sores on hands, feet, chest, face, or genitals.

There are some differences to tell between monkeypox and chickenpox.

“Chicken pox would just be kind of the rash, but some blisters and so on to a little bit different in that regards, and also, there’s a kind of more of a general malaise,” Lehrer said.

While monkeypox is something to be aware of, Lehrer said smallpox vaccines work well against it. He recommends not getting caught in the frenzy of a new headline and remembering that COVID remains our most dangerous threat.

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“I think the World Health Organization was talking about more than 1,000 reported cases now worldwide. So I think that is in relation to other viruses or other diseases not so concerning,” stated Lehrer. “I think the main thing right now is really you just want to keep up your guard. I think COVID is still the bigger danger, much bigger danger.”