Volusia, Flagler counties report first monkeypox cases

Both counties' health departments said the public threat is low

Frank Fernandez
The Daytona Beach News-Journal

Volusia County reported its first case of monkeypox on Friday, but the Florida Department of Health said the threat to the general population is low. 

Flagler County also reported its first case of the disease, according to a Department of Health press release sent Friday afternoon. Florida has reported 346 cases statewide, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, which was last updated Thursday.

The Florida Department of Health - Volusia County declined to provide any information about the person who contracted monkeypox, such as their age or an age range. 

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“The patient is isolated and we are looking into possible exposures he may have had and we will offer any exposure treatment,” said Wendi Jackson, the Volusia County DOH public information specialist. 

When asked if the general population should be concerned, she said that monkeypox is spread only through close contact or possibly through the sharing of contaminated items, such as bedding or towels. 

“Monkeypox is spread through close intimate contact with somebody who has monkeypox,” Jackson said. 

No additional cases have been identified, according to a press release from the health department. 

Monkeypox was once rare in the United States and had been found mostly in Central and Western Africa; but it is now spreading throughout the country. 

Monkeypox transmission “generally requires prolonged, face-to-face contact, direct contact with an active rash, or indirect contact with an active rash through contaminated items, such as contaminated clothing,” the release stated. 

A person infected with monkeypox should get a vaccine within 14 days of exposure, although the vaccine is most effective within four days, the release stated. 

Monkeypox has similarities to smallpox, so treatments used for smallpox may also be used against monkeypox, according to the release. 

Flagler County's news release stated that there are cases of the disease in at least 43 states and Washington, D.C. Like Volusia County, Flagler County said the risk to the general population was low.

Flagler County Department of Health Administrator Bob Snyder said that the male patient was first identified about 10 days ago as a presumptive case for monkeypox, at which point the department started a case investigation including who the man had been in contact with that might be at risk for the disease. He said the case was only recently confirmed.

“It's skin-to-skin contact. The highest risk is men having sex with men and that’s nationwide,” Snyder said. 

He said they had a second man on Friday come in with a rash, but it wasn't monkeypox. 

“It ended up being contact dermatitis and not monkeypox,” Snyder said. 

He said monkeypox does not present the same threat in Flagler as it does in South Florida, where he said two counties make up nearly half the state's cases.

"It's not a public health threat here in Flagler County like I would say in Broward and Miami-Dade," he said.