While Chicago health officials say the risk of contracting monkey flu is “low”, the city’s public health department said it was advising the public to take precautionary measures after five more cases were reported across the city.
In a news release Monday, the CDPH confirmed that at least seven cases had been identified in Chicago, a significant increase from the two cases reported in previous weeks. Seven cases involved people who had recently traveled to Europe, and health officials said the first two cases were related to each other.
A Chicago resident was diagnosed with monkey pox after attending an international Mr. Leather conference in the city May 26-30.
Monkey is a rare, but serious viral disease that often begins with fever-like symptoms and inflammation of the lymph nodes, and progresses to a rash on the face and body, health experts said. It was first seen in Africa in the 1970s, and is commonly found in the western and central parts of the continent.
The CDC is on high alert following reports of the virus in several countries that have not reported monkey pox, including the United States.
In a press release, CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allsion Arwady, CDPH wants the CDPH to make informed choices about gathering places where monkeys can spread through close contact, even if the risk is “low”.
Health officials say individuals attending festivals or other summer events should consider how close, personal, and skin-to-skin contact may be at events they plan to attend. If someone is unwell or has rashes or sores, CDPH recommends not attending a meeting and seeing a healthcare provider as soon as possible.
In all, more than 1,450 confirmed cases have been reported in 33 countries, and 49 cases have been reported in the United States, 16 states and the District of Columbia. Most individuals have experienced mild symptoms and no one has died.
“Usually, in a normal year, we’ll see some animal-related events in West Africa,” Arvadi said earlier. “There are animals that can carry it, you know, and we’ll look at a few dozen cases where people could be affected only by contact with animals. At this point, it’s worth paying more attention to. We have identified 100 cases that are not related to the usual way of looking at the monkey box.”
The virus is rarely dangerous, with symptoms ranging from fever, aches and rashes all over the body.
“The CDPH states that transmission from person to person is possible through close physical contact with monkeys, fluids or objects contaminated with ulcers (clothing, bedding, etc.) or prolonged direct contact.”