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North Carolina confirms first case of monkeypox. County where infection found not identified by officials, though it is not believed to be Forsyth

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North Carolina is reporting its first case of monkeypox, but the case is not in Forsyth County, county health director Joshua Swift said Thursday.

The state Department of Health and Human Services said the case was confirmed by the State Laboratory of Public Health.

The infected individual is not being identified by DHHS and officials are not saying which county the person lives in. Officials said the person is listed as isolating at home.

“We’re not aware of any cases in Forsyth,” Swift said.

DHHS said monkeypox is a rare but 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.

Monkeypox comes from the same family of viruses as smallpox. Most people recover from monkeypox within weeks, but the disease is fatal for up to 1 in 10 people, The Associated Press reported.

There have been at least 156 cases in the United States since monkeypox surfaced in the U.S, but no deaths.

Monkeypox’s symptoms can be confused with chickenpox or sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis or herpes. It is typically spread by direct skin-to-skin contact, having contact with an infectious rash, through body fluids or through respiratory secretions.

“While anyone can get monkeypox, in the current outbreak, many of the cases are in men who have sex with men,” DHHS said.

DHHS is working with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, relevant local health departments and the patient’s healthcare providers to identify and notify individuals who may have been in contact with the patient while they were infectious.

“The number of monkeypox cases has been growing in the U.S. and globally,” Dr. Zack Moore, the state epidemiologist, said in a statement.

“Though this is the first confirmed case in North Carolina, we know there are likely other cases in the state.

“We are encouraging doctors to consider this in people who have a rash or skin lesion that looks like monkeypox.”

COVID-19 update

DHHS reported Wednesday that Forsyth has surpassed 100,000 cases of COVID-19.

Forsyth was reported with 776 cases for the week that ended June 18, down 15.1% from the previous report. It was the lowest weekly total since 724 for the week that ended May 7.

By comparison, in April the number of weekly cases had fallen below 200.

Forsyth is at 100,114 over the course of the pandemic. Of the 776 new reported cases, DHHS said 82 were people who have been re-infected with COVID-19.

There were no additional COVID-deaths in Forsyth last week, leaving the total at 836 since the onset of the pandemic in mid-March 2020.

The weekly DHHS dashboard totals are subject to revision. When newly listed cases and deaths are added retroactively to statewide and county totals, they are attributed to the week in which the positive case is determined.

Swift has stressed that the DHHS weekly case totals include only laboratory-confirmed cases, and don’t include most people who determine they are positive with an at-home test. People are not required to report their positive tests to county health departments.

However, Swift said the department has seen an increase of people who test positive from an at-home kit that choose to verify the result through a test administered by the department.

Although Swift said the positive test rate is currently 17% in Forsyth, he said the extreme hot weather in recent weeks could create a modest bump in new cases as people spend more time indoors.

“Virus can tend to spread more in dry, cool air,” Swift said.

“There’s been a high number of people in the community who have built up immunity, whether through vaccines or being infected, or having both.

“About a third of new cases are breakthrough cases, with a high likelihood that it is not severe at all, but with mild symptoms.”

Swift said it appears the latest omicron subvariants are weaker than previous subvariants.

“There’s isn’t an on-off switch with COVID,” Swift said. “You never know with these variants, but every day we seem to get closer to the endemic stage where we learn to live with COVID-19.

“Hopefully, it will slowly go into the background with the immunity in the community and the ability to get boosted.”

336-727-7376

@rcraverWSJ

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