Monkeypox in Acadiana: 5 Cases Confirmed by Louisiana Department of Health
Nearly a month of after the first case of monkeypox was confirmed in LDH Region 1 - which consists of Orleans, Plaquemines, Jefferson, and St. Bernard parishes - the first case of the virus has been confirmed in the Acadiana region.
The Louisiana Department of Health is reporting 5 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Acadiana.
Dr. Tina Stefanski is the Regional Medical Director for the LDH District 4 Office of Public Health, which covers most of Acadiana. She provides hopeful context to the disease in this The Advocate article:
The monkeypox virus is in the family of viruses that includes smallpox, but it is a much milder disease. It is rarely fatal,” Stefanski said. “With the current outbreak, there have been no confirmed deaths.”
So far, LDH confirms there are 58 total infections in Louisiana. Most of them - 42 infections - are being reported in the Southeast Louisiana region. Many of the regions - South Central, Southwest, Central, and Northeast - are still reporting 0 cases.
Medical officials with LDH define monkeypox as:
a potentially serious viral illness that typically involves flu-like symptoms, swelling of the lymph nodes and a rash that includes bumps that are initially filled with fluid before scabbing over."
Medical officials also point out that monkeypox can be confused with syphilis or herpes, sexually transmitted infections.
Much discussion about how monkeypox is spread has centered around how the illness seems to be spread through sex, more specifically among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. Early data from the CDC says gay and bisexual men are making up a high number of cases but LDH says if you have been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox then you could be at risk yourself, regardless of who your sexual partner(s) may be.
Here are ways monkeypox can be spread:
- Through direct contact with a rash or sores of someone who has the virus
- Through contact with clothing, bedding and other items used by a person with monkeypox, or from respiratory droplets that can be passed through prolonged face-to-face contact, including kissing, cuddling or sex
- From infected animals, either by being scratched or bitten by the animal or by eating meat or using products from an infected animal.
The good news is that monkeypox cannot be spread by people who do not have symptoms.
The symptoms of monkeypox are:
- Muscle aches and backache
- Swollen lymph nodes
- A rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals or anus. Sometimes people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash. Some cases in the current U.S. outbreak have experienced only isolated rashes in the genital region or other body parts.