DHS: Wisconsin’s first case of monkeypox confirmed in Dane County

MADISON, Wis. — State health officials said Friday they’ve identified the first confirmed case of orthopoxvirus, which experts presume is a case of monkeypox.

The case was identified in Dane County, according to a statement from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Health officials said that patient is isolating and that the risk to the general public remains low.

During a briefing with reporters Friday afternoon, DHS officials said they could not provide specifics on the case, including whether the person had traveled internationally, in order to protect that person’s privacy.

Since the start of the outbreak in the U.S., health experts have confirmed 396 cases around the country. Patients who contract the disease, which is rare but potentially serious, usually develop new, unexplained rashes and skin lesions.

“The number of monkeypox cases continues to rise in the U.S., so it is not a surprise that monkeypox has now been detected in Wisconsin,” Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ryan Westergaard said. “While it’s likely that additional cases will be found among Wisconsinites, we are relieved that this disease does not spread easily from person to person. We’d like for all clinicians to remain alert to patients with compatible rashes and encourage them to test for monkeypox. We want the public to know that the risk of widespread transmission remains low.”

Other symptoms include fever, chills, and swollen lymph nodes. Most people who contract the virus recover in two to four weeks without treatment, according to DHS experts. Vaccinations and antiviral medications can be used to prevent and treat infections.

The virus is transmitted through respiratory droplets, skin-to-skin contact or contact with contaminated items, but DHS experts said it does not spread easily between individuals. Anyone can contract and spread the disease after exposure, but according to the CDC, most cases in the U.S. have been found in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.

Speaking to reporters, Westergaard said the announcement is “not something that should cause undue alarm” among the public, adding the virus is understood more than COVID-19 was at the start of the pandemic and that vaccines are already available.

More information about the virus is available on DHS’ website.