Saturday, June 14, 2003

Suspected human case of monkeypox investigated in western Ky.

The Associated Press

MAYFIELD, Ky. - A person with a suspected case of monkeypox in western Kentucky is under home isolation, state health officials said.

The person had contact with an animal in a pet store that received several animals from the Illinois distributor whose animals are believed to have transmitted monkeypox to people in several states. The person was suffering from a rash, aching and exhaustion, symptoms associated with the illness, said Sharon Godec, nursing director for the Purchase District Health Department.

Godec said the results of testing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should be known by Wednesday. She said she didn't know what kind of animal was involved. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is testing the animal, she said.

"We're monitoring their case so we can make sure that they don't get sicker," said Gwenda Bond, a spokeswoman for the Cabinet for Health Services. Bond added that the person had the lowest level of criteria for exposure to the illness.

State officials said they don't believe the public is at risk.

"This disease has a low rate of transmission person to person and in most cases has been transmitted through contact with sick animals," said Mike Auslander, a veterinarian and assistant director at the state public health department.

State health officials are asking anyone who has had contact with a prairie dog, Gambian giant rat or other recently acquired exotic animals to seek medical attention if a fever, cough, rash or swollen lymph nodes develop within three weeks of contact.

The agency said species susceptible to the virus may include primates, rabbits and some rodents. Though monkeypox is not usually fatal, a skin rash, similar to, but less infectious than, smallpox may develop, the agency said. The incubation period for humans and animals is about 12 days.

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