ROCKINGHAM — Richmond County is one of 15 in North Carolina to have at least one confirmed case of monkeypox.
Health Director Cheryl Speight last week told the Richmond County Board of Commissioners, following a question by Commissioner Tavares Bostic, that the county does have one case.
However, although the patient is a resident of Richmond County, Speight said he hasn’t been in the county for several weeks.
According to data from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, there were 60 confirmed cases in the state as of Aug. 1. All patients are men.
(Note: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 111 cases on Aug. 8.)
There are 33 cases involving men in the 31-50 age bracket, 24 in the 18-30 range and three 51 or older, NCDHHS reports.
Speight said she did not know the age of the local patient.
The first case, based on the onset of symptoms, in the state was reported the week of June 1.
NCDHHS reports that 41 of the patients are black, 14 are white, one is American Indian, one is Asian and three are of an unknown race.
Nearly all of the state’s cases, according to NCDHHS, are among men who have had sex with men.
There are nearly 9,000 cases across the country, according to the CDC, with almost 2,000 in New York, more than 1,300 in California and close to 1,000 in Florida.
There has been at least one case reported in all 50 states, with Montana, Vermont and South Dakota only having one each. There are also 303 reported cases in Washington, D.C.
The first domestic case of monkeypox was identified on May 17 in Massachusetts, according to the CDC.
The United States has more confirmed cases than any other nation, followed by Spain with less than 5,000.
According to the CDC, monkeypox is “part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.”
Those symptoms include fever, body aches and headache, swollen lymph nodes and a rash and can take up to three weeks after exposure to start.
The virus was first discovered in 1958 in a colony of monkeys, hence the name, and the first human case was detected in 1970, according to the CDC. Before this year’s outbreak, it was mostly found in Africa or “linked to international travel to countries where the disease commonly occurs or through imported animals.”
The virus can be spread through skin-to-skin contact, sexual acts, touching objects or fabrics used by someone infected, according to the CDC. Pregnant women who are infected can also spread the virus to their fetus.
The CDC says Monkeypox can also be contracted through bites or scratches, or preparing meat of infected animals.
The illness lasts two-four weeks, according to the CDC.
While there has been concern about children contracting monkeypox, the American Academy of Pediatrics says that the risk for children is “very low” and that there were only two documented pediatric cases as of Aug. 3.