- Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- An illustration of the monkeypox virus
On Friday, the Vermont Department of Health described the patient as an adult living in Franklin County. The person has been in touch with health care providers, a press release said, and the risk of community transmission is considered to be "very low" at this time.
The health department said it will not be releasing any more information about the patient to protect their privacy. A specimen will be sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation of the positive test.
“That the virus has shown up in Vermont is unwelcome news, but not a surprise, and I am hopeful this person recovers quickly,” Health Commissioner Mark Levine said in the release. He said the state will remain in close contact with the CDC. “We are fortunate that the threat to Vermonters remains low at this time.”
The case comes a little less than a week after the World Health Organization declared the international monkeypox outbreak a global emergency. More than 18,000 cases have been identified globally, including some 4,900 in the U.S. Vermont was previously one of only several states yet to report a case.
Monkeypox is an infectious disease that is believed to be transmitted through skin-to-skin or contact with bodily fluids. Recently-identified cases in the U.S. have been overwhelmingly concentrated in men who were infected through intimate contact with other men, according to the CDC.
The disease is a cousin of smallpox, and the symptoms are similar but milder and rarely fatal, typically lasting between one to three weeks. Those who get sick often experience a fever, headache and body aches, and often develop a rash that starts with flat red marks that become raised and pus-filled. Most patients recover without treatment.
Vaccines and therapeutics used to treat smallpox also work for monkeypox. The U.S. has maintained a stockpile in case of smallpox's return, and additional doses of vaccines are expected to arrive in the U.S. soon.
Because monkeypox belongs to the same family of viruses as the much deadlier smallpox, vaccines and therapeutics stockpiled in the event of smallpox’s return can be used to prevent and treat monkeypox.
Vermont has been allotted 426 vaccine doses to date, 86 of which have already arrived. "The CDC is working to rapidly increase available vaccine doses, and we expect more vaccine in Vermont in the coming weeks and months," the health department's press release said.
Health officials are now trying to determine how to best prioritize the limited number of doses for those at highest risk of transmission.