NJ county reports first case of monkeypox, bringing statewide total to 8

A single case of monkeypox has been reported in Camden County, bringing total cases of the virus in New Jersey to eight, officials said Tuesday.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state Department of Health confirmed a Gloucester Township resident who traveled outside New Jersey tested positive for orthopoxvirus, the virus that causes monkeypox.

The CDC’s monkeypox case map shows monkeypox numbers are relatively low in the Garden State compared to New York, which has 96 cases and Pennsylvania, which has reported 17 cases. Connecticut has only 1 reported case, according to the CDC map.

Monkeypox symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, chills and pimples or a blister-like rash. The disease is spread from person-to-person through contact with the rash, scabs or body fluids and can also be spread through respiratory droplets or from kissing and sex.

Once the Camden County laboratory results came back positive, state and health officials began an investigation of the unnamed individual’s whereabouts and close contacts, officials said.

“The Camden County Health Department has completed contact tracing, treatment and is currently investigating the case to ensure a vaccine is available for all close contacts,” the statement said.

“The individual patient is isolating at home, contact tracing was performed, prophylaxis was provided to any close contacts and the case remains under investigation,” county statement said.

Currently, the monkeypox threat to Camden County residents is “extremely low,” given that the disease is treatable when medical care is sought after a case is confirmed, Paschal Nwako, Camden County health officer and public health coordinator, said in a statement.

“Additionally, a vaccine is available for high-risk contacts of an infected person and patients with monkeypox can also receive an antiviral treatment,” Nwako said. “There is no need for panic, but we are encouraging residents to stay vigilant and to watch for symptoms.”

The New Jersey Department of Health has designated Camden County a regional storage hub for the vaccine, meaning that regional health departments in South Jersey with cases and close contacts will work with Camden County for vaccine distribution, officials said.

Last month, cases began emerging in Europe and the United States. Many — but not all — of those who contracted the virus had traveled internationally. Most were men who have sex with men, but health officials stress that anyone can get monkeypox.

US health officials on Tuesday said they were expanding recommendations for the monkeypox vaccine to include men who have recently had sex with men at parties or in other gatherings in cities where monkeypox cases have been identified.

As of Tuesday, the US had identified 306 cases in 27 states and the District of Columbia. More than 4,700 cases have been found in more than 40 other countries outside the areas of Africa where the virus is endemic.

There have been no US deaths and officials say the risk to the American public is low. But they are taking steps to assure people that medical measures are in place to deal with the growing problem.

To learn more about monkeypox, residents can visit the CDC website. Residents can also call the Camden County Department of Health and Human Services at 856-374-6370.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Anthony G. Attrino may be reached at tattrino@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TonyAttrino. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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