LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the first case of rare monkeypox in May in Massachusetts. On Friday, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services confirmed the first case in Jefferson County.

The latest batch of data brings the nation’s total to 201.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services released a statement saying the risk to the general public remains low.

State Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said, “Identifying the first case of monkeypox in Kentucky is concerning but not surprising. Fortunately, the risk to the general public remains low. We continue to work closely with CDC and our local health department and healthcare partners to contain the spread of this virus.”

The CDC also stresses the virus which spreads through prolonged skin-to-skin contact, is not a high risk to the public. 

However, the CDC did raise its warning level for monkeypox to a Level 2 concern in June, meaning Americans should be cautious when they travel but do not have to cancel their plans. 

What is Monkeypox?

The virus, orthopox, was first found in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in a child located in a rural, rainforest region where smallpox had since been eradicated, according to the World Health Organization.

The disease is related to smallpox but typically less severe.

Symptoms of Monkeypox

The Kentucky Department for Public Health said monkeypox typically begins as a flu-like illness, with symptoms like fever and swelling of lymph nodes about five to 21 days after exposure, with rashes or lesions developing one to three days later.

Monkeypox usually lasts two to four weeks, according to the CDC.

In at-risk individuals, like those with weakened immune systems, the disease can be fatal. However, antiviral treatment can be given to those individuals.

What to do if you think you have monkeypox

To prevent the spread of monkeypox in Kentucky, KDPH is asking individuals to be aware of the risks and how monkeypox spreads. It is also important to remember that monkeypox can spread through sexual networks, therefore KDPH urges you to be vigilant. People who have symptoms of monkeypox, particularly the characteristic rash or lesions, should take the following steps:

  • Visit a medical provider for an evaluation
  • Cover the area of the rash with clothing
  • Wear a mask
  • Avoid skin-to-skin, or close contact with others

Photos of monkeypox:

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