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A probable Missouri monkeypox case detected after traveler returns to Kansas City

A digitally-colorized image of a monkeypox virion, colored with purple and blue.
Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regnery
A digitally-colorized electron microscopic image of a monkeypox virion.

This is the first case of the virus in the state, but officials say extensive spread is not probable.

Officials found a likely case of monkeypox in Kansas City over the weekend in a patient who’d recently traveled outside the state.

The Kansas City Health Department and Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced initial testing was completed at the Missouri State Public Health Laboratory.

“We are considering this a probable case of monkeypox virus until we receive final confirmation from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) labs,” Dr. Marvia Jones, director of the Kansas City Health Department, said in a press release. “We appreciate the work our disease investigation and nursing staff have done to educate themselves on this rare virus and be on alert for it.”

Confirmation of the case from the CDC was still pending Monday afternoon.

Officials had confirmed 113 cases of Monkeypox in the U.S. as of June 17. This would be the first case found in Missouri. The first U.S. case in this outbreak appeared a month ago when an American resident returned from Canada with the virus May 18.

Monkeypox is rare and the risk of exposure in the U.S. remains low. The virus spreads through direct contact with others who have been infected or by touching items that have previously touched the rash.

The virus may present with flu-like symptoms and is known for its otherwise-unexplained rash on the face and body. In some, monkeypox may present like an STI.

“It’s not clear how the people were exposed to monkeypox,” the CDC website says, “but early data suggest that gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men make up a high number of cases. However, anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk.”

The rash often looks similar to pimples or blisters and can appear before the flu-like symptoms. Because it is mainly spread through close contact with others, prevention is straightforward. Avoid contact with anyone suspected of having monkeypox, including sick animals who may have been infected. The CDC also recommends washing your hands frequently, especially after close contact with others.

If you suspect you have monkeypox or have unexplained rashes and sores, contact a health care provider to get tested and avoid direct contact with others.

When news breaks, it can be easy to rely on officials and people in power to get information fast. As KCUR’s general assignment and breaking news reporter, I want to bring you the human faces of the day’s biggest stories. Whether it’s a local shop owner or a worker on the picket line, I want to give you the stories of the real people who are driving change in the Kansas City area. Email me at savannahhawley@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @savannahhawley.
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