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St. Louis officials report first probable case of monkeypox

St. Louis health officials have reported the city’s first probable case of monkeypox.

The case has not been confirmed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the CDC has recently confirmed three cases of monkeypox in Missouri.

It’s likely the individual contracted monkeypox while recently traveling outside the state, health officials said. The individual has had minimal contact with others, and close contacts have been notified.

“Through this individual’s cooperation with the Department of Health, we believe their minimal contact with other individuals will help contain the spread of this virus within our community,” said Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis, St. Louis health director.

Monkeypox has been spreading in rural Africa for years. But it was only until it started to spread beyond the continent that global health officials began to focus on the virus, experts said.

Health officials have criticized the United States’ response to the spread of monkeypox. Critics said the U.S. has employed lackluster surveillance, possibly undercounted cases and not made vaccines widely available.

Public health officials are recommending that anyone with symptoms see a medical provider and avoid direct contact with others.

“I know for some people this is going to bring them back to some of the mitigation strategies around COVID, [and] that’s absolutely right,” Hlatshwayo Davis said.

There is no known cure for monkeypox and no specific vaccine, she said. The currently available vaccines were created to target similar diseases, like smallpox.

St. Louis and Missouri health officials are discussing distributing vaccines to those at high risk, like health care workers.

There are over 750 cases of monkeypox in the United States, according to data from the CDC.

Farrah Anderson is the newsroom intern at St. Louis Public Radio. Follow her on Twitter: @farrahsoa.

Copyright 2022 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.

Farrah Anderson