Health Department clarifies reports of Monkeypox in county: reports are from Indiana

Advises residents on what Monkeypox is and how to treat it

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Mich. — Monkeypox, a virus that was recently declared a public health emergency by the World Health Organization, is not in St. Joseph County at this time, according to the Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency (BHSJ).

However, it has been reported in St. Joseph County…Indiana.

On Wednesday, BHSJ offered that clarification, citing recent local news reports about the Monkeypox virus being in St. Joseph County without being specific about which St. Joseph County it was.

“The agency has received inquiries from concerned local residents, as initial reporting did not clearly state St. Joseph County, Indiana,” Kristina Dewey, public information and communications specialist at BHSJ, said in a release. “As of today, the Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency has no confirmed cases of Monkeypox virus within the jurisdiction.”

The release also gave additional details explaining what Monkeypox is and how to prevent people from getting sick.

Monkeypox is a virus that is part of the same family of viruses as the variola virus, which causes smallpox. While Monkeypox and chickenpox have similar presentation, they are not related to each other. Symptoms of Monkeypox generally appear one to two weeks after exposure and include:

  • Fever
  • Exhaustion
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, under the arms, or in the groin area
  • Chills

A rash appears as small pimples that develop at relatively the same time on any given part of the body. The lesions progress through four stages before scabbing over and resolving. They may be painful at the beginning, and once they begin to heal they may become itchy. The infection and rash typically lasts two to four weeks.

The illness spreads primarily through direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, bodily fluids, or prolonged face-to-face contact.

Dewey said in the release the risk to the general public is low, but those with concerns about Monkeypox can contact their medical provider for evaluation and testing.

If you are sick with Monkeypox, it is recommended to isolate at home and stay in a separate room or area away from people or pets until the rash has healed.

While there are no specific treatments for Monkeypox, both Monkeypox and smallpox are genetically similar, Dewey said in the release, which means anti-viral medications and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox can be used to treat and prevent Monkeypox infections.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, vaccination is recommended for people who have been exposed or at higher risk of being exposed to Monkeypox. People are at higher risk if they are aware that they have been intimate in the past two weeks with someone diagnosed with Monkeypox, or have been intimate with multiple partners in the past two weeks in an area with known Monkeypox. Additionally, persons’ work settings which may expose them to Monkeypox, such as testing labs, technicians who handle cultures or animals with orthopoxviruses, and healthcare workers caring for patients with Monkeypox.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 22 or

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