First case of monkeypox identified in Albany County

— Map from the CDC

World view: The yellow circles in Africa show where monkeypox has historically occurred. The red circles show places that have historically not reported monkeypox. The larger the circle, the more cases that country has.

ALBANY COUNTY — The first case of an extremely rare viral infection, monkeypox, has been identified in Albany County, the county’s executive announced on Tuesday.

Monkeypox cases, usually seen in Africa, were identified in North America and Europe in May.

As of July 19, according to the state’s health department, a total of 679 confirmed cases have been identified in New York State with 639 in New York City, 18 in Westchester County, 5 each in Suffolk and Nassau counties, 4 in Monroe County, 2 in Erie County, and 1 each in Sullivan, Chemung, Rockland, Saint Lawrence, Tompkins, and Albany counties.

Albany County’s case was of a person who had traveled out of state who “is not believed to have contracted this in Albany County,” said Tuesday’s release from County Executive Daniel McCoy.

While the illness, which involves flu-like symptoms and a rash, can be mild, it can also lead to hospitalization and death, especially if left untreated, the county says, adding, “Infections spread through close physical contact between individuals or between individuals and contaminated objects, and typically last about two to four weeks.”

New York State has been allocated 8,822 doses of vaccine from the federal government with an additional allocation of 23,963 for New York City alone, the governor’s office reported in a release on Tuesday. Forty doses are for Albany County.

The JYNNEOS vaccine is a two-dose series, administered four weeks apart, to be given, while supplies remain limited, to adults 18 and older already exposed or likely to have been exposed to monkeypox.

“New York continues to face a disproportionate number of monkeypox cases,” said Governor Kathy Hochul in the release, thanking the Biden administration for the additional vaccines for the state while supplies remain limited.

As of July 19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists just seven states — Maine, Vermont, Mississippi, Wyoming, Montana, Indiana, and Alaska — that have not had a case of monkeypox.

New York has the most confirmed cases followed by California, Illinois, and Florida.

“Health officials are concerned because monkeypox is spreading, and cases of monkeypox are presenting, in ways not typically seen in past monkeypox outbreaks,” the state’s health department says. “Although the current strain of monkeypox that is circulating in the U.S. is rarely fatal, symptoms can be extremely painful, and people might have permanent scarring resulting from the rash.”

The health department recommends these protective steps, especially for children under 8, pregnant people, and people with weakened immune systems:

—Ask your sexual partners whether they have a rash or other symptoms consistent with monkeypox;

— Avoid skin-to-skin contact with someone who has a rash or other monkeypox-related symptoms;

— If you are exposed or experience symptoms, contact a health-care provider; and

— Follow reputable sources of health information, including the state’s health department, the CDC, and your local county health department.

There are antiviral medications to treat monkeypox, the department says, and health-care providers can confirm cases through the state’s Wadsworth laboratory.

While anyone can get monkeypox, currently, men who have sex with men are being affected more than others, the state’s health department says.

The CDC recommends that people who are sick with monkeypox isolate at home and those with active rashes stay in a separate room, away from other people and pets in the household.

“Monkeypox is zoonotic, meaning it can spread between animals and people. However, CDC does not currently believe that monkeypox poses a high risk to pets,” the CDC says.



Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research, hence the name “monkeypox,” says the CDC. The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo during a period of intensified effort to eliminate smallpox. Since then, monkeypox has been reported in humans in other central and western African countries.

That first case, the World Health Organization says, was in a 9-year-old boy in a region of the Congo where smallpox had been eliminated in 1968. Since then, most cases have been reported from rural, rainforest regions of the Congo Basin, and human cases have increasingly been reported from across central and west Africa. Since 1970, human cases of monkeypox have been reported in 11 African countries, the WHO says.

The World Health Organization notes that the United States had the first monkeypox outbreak outside of Africa in 2003; it was linked to contact with infected pet prairie dogs. “These pets had been housed with Gambian pouched rats and dormice that had been imported into the country from Ghana,” the WHO reports. “This outbreak led to over 70 cases of monkeypox in the U.S.”

“With the eradication of smallpox in 1980 and subsequent cessation of smallpox vaccination, monkeypox has emerged as the most important orthopoxvirus for public health,” the WHO says. Vaccines used for smallpox eradication also provided protection against monkeypox and newer vaccines have been developed of which one has been approved for prevention of monkeypox, the WHO says.

Monkeypox is less contagious than smallpox and causes less severe illness, the WHO says, and an antiviral agent developed for the treatment of smallpox has also been licensed for the treatment of monkeypox.

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