First case of monkeypox reported in Portage County

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A Portage County resident has tested positive for monkeypox, the first confirmed local case and one of 45 cases in Ohio, health officials said Aug. 8.

The Portage County Health District said the resident is isolating and that “the risk to the general public is low.” 

“The Health District’s Communicable Disease Nurses are monitoring the person, and we continue to conduct contact tracing to all known contacts of this individual to help prevent the spread of the disease,” county Health Commissioner Joseph Diorio said in a statement.

Monkeypox is a viral disease transmitted through close contact with a person who is infected. Symptoms are typically similar to the flu and are accompanied by a rash on the face and extremities.

The disease is usually not clinically severe and resolves on its own after two to four weeks. 

In a separate statement, Kent Health Commissioner Joan Seidel said the city, the county department and Kent State officials have held planning meetings to coordinate a response to monkeypox if it becomes an outbreak.

No Kent State students have been infected, she said.

Residents who think they might have been exposed to monkeypox should isolate and call their doctor or the health department to get tested, Seidel said. 

The Portage County health department provided the following information:

Residents should take the following steps to avoid contracting monkeypox:

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
  • Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after you use the bathroom.

Monkeypox is spread through the following ways: 

  • Person-to-person through direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs or body fluids.
  • Respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, such as while kissing, cuddling, or sex.
  • From pregnant person to fetus through the placenta.
  • Touching things that were used by a person with monkeypox, including sheets, towels, and other objects that touched the infectious rash or body fluids.

A person with monkeypox can spread it to others from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed.

Symptoms include:

  • Rash that may be located on or near the genitals or anus and could be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth.
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Exhaustion
  • Muscle aches backache
  • Headache 
  • Respiratory symptoms (sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)

A person may experience a few or all symptoms. Some people only experience the rash, some present with flu-like symptoms before the rash, and others get the rash first and then experience other symptoms. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do not recommend the monkeypox vaccine for the general public. The vaccine is available for people who have been exposed to monkeypox or are at high risk for exposure. Right now, Ohio has a very small supply of vaccine to help prevent monkeypox. The vaccine is being given to communities with the most cases to help limit spread.  

For additional information on monkeypox, visit the CDC website at and ODH website at

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Ben Wolford is the editor and publisher of The Portager.

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