While Chicago health officials maintain the risk of contracting monkeypox remains “low,” the city’s Department of Public Health announced it’s advising the public to take precautions after five more cases were reported across the city.
In a news release Monday, CDPH confirmed at least seven cases have been identified in Chicago, a significant increase from the two cases that were reported in the previous weeks. Seven of the cases involve individuals who recently traveled to Europe, and the first two cases appeared to be related to each other, health officials said.
One Chicago resident was diagnosed with monkeypox after attending the International Mr. Leather conference, which took place from May 26-30 in the city, and other cases connected to the event have been reported.
Monkeypox is a rare, but potentially serious viral illness that often begins with flu-like symptoms and swelling of the lymph nodes, and progresses to a rash on the face and body, health experts said. It was first observed in Africa in 1970, and is usually found in western and central portions of the continent.
The CDC is on alert after cases of the virus were reported in several countries that typically do not report monkeypox cases, including the U.S.
In a news release, CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allsion Arwady said even though the risk is “low,” CDPH wants the public to make informed choices about gathering in spaces where monkeypox could be spread through close contact.
Individuals attending festivals or other summer events should consider how much close, personal, skin-to-skin contact is likely to occur at the events they plan to attend, according to health officials. If someone feels sick or has rashes or sores, CDPH recommends not attending a gathering, and visiting a health care provider as soon as possible.
A total of 33 countries have reported more than 1,450 confirmed cases, and in the U.S., 49 cases have been reported in 16 states as well as the District of Columbia. Most individuals have experienced mild symptoms, and no one has died.
“Usually, in a normal year, we will see a few cases mostly in Western Africa that are related to animals,” Arwady previously said. “There are animals that can carry it and we’ll see, you know, a few dozen cases that people can get infected just from just from being in contact with animals. The reason there’s been more attention is that at this point, there’s been somewhere between 100 cases that have been identified that are not connected to the typical way that we see monkeypox.”
The virus is rarely lethal, with symptoms ranging from fever, aches and rashes all over the body.
CDPH said person-to-person transmission is possible through “close physical contact with monkeypox sores, items that have been contaminated with fluids or sores (clothing, bedding, etc.), or through respiratory droplets following prolonged face-to-face contact.”