GARY, Ind. — A northern Indiana city is reporting a case of monkeypox, marking the second for Indiana.
On Tuesday, Gary Mayor Jerome Prince announced the confirmation of a monkeypox case in the city. On Saturday, the Gary Health Department said a test was performed at an outpatient lab, which was confirmed on Sunday. The department said this makes two confirmed cases in the state of Indiana.
“Considering our proximity to Chicago, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that this virus has spread to the city of Gary,” said Mayor Prince.
Monkeypox, clinically known as orthopox, is a disease related to smallpox—or variola—though monkeypox is typically less severe. It was first discovered in 1958 in monkeys who were being kept for research, hence the colloquial name of the disease.
As of June 21, the CDC reports a total of 142 confirmed monkeypox cases across the United States. The majority of the cases are in California and New York. Illinois has 19 reported cases.
“So while that number does grow, it is not nearly as large a number as when we were looking at like a pandemic situation,” said Dr. Roland Walker, City of Gary Health Commissioner.
The United States has a scattered history of monkeypox, including an outbreak that occurred in 2003, with cases reported in Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. That outbreak happened after a shipment of animals introduced the virus into the United States.
Unlike COVID-19, which is airborne, monkeypox is “not something you can get passing somebody on the street,” a senior administration health official said. Respiratory droplets generally cannot travel more than a few feet, so prolonged face-to-face contact is required.
The case in Gary is being monitored. The Gary Health Department said the patient is in isolation and they are continuing to do contact tracing.
“We believe we have traced all of the people the person had been in contact with,” said Walker, “but we continue to interview people to make sure that the citizens of Gary are safe.”
Monkeypox typically presents 7-14 days after exposure and symptoms include fever, headache, muscle ache, backaches, chills, exhaustion, and swollen lymph nodes—which is the main distinguishing symptomatic factor between smallpox and monkeypox. Smallpox does not typically cause swollen lymph nodes.
One to three days after the onset of fever, patients develop a rash that typically begins on the face and then spreads to other areas of the body. The lesions then progress through different stages before falling off.
Monkeypox usually lasts two to four weeks, according to the CDC. The CDC says anyone with a rash that looks like monkeypox should talk to their healthcare provider. People who may be at higher risk might include, but are not limited to, those who:
- Had contact with someone who had a rash that looks like monkeypox or someone who was diagnosed with confirmed or probable monkeypox
- Had skin-to-skin contact with someone in a social network experiencing monkeypox activity, this includes men who have sex with men who meet partners through an online website, digital application or social events like bars or a party
- Traveled outside the US to a country with confirmed cases of monkeypox or where monkeypox activity has been ongoing
- Had contact with a dead or live wild animal or exotic pet that exists only in Africa or used a product derived from such animals (e.g., game meat, creams, lotions, powders, etc.)