Health officials say two men have been diagnosed with monkeypox, in two separate Maine counties.

Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Nirav Shah confirmed on Monday that the latest case was found in a man in Penobscot County. The first case was found in July, diagnosed in a male York County resident. The Maine CDC is not releasing any information about the names, ages, or specific locations of the two men.

What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is in the same family as smallpox and is spreading across the United States. As of August 1st, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was reporting 5,811 cases nationwide. As with Covid, the largest numbers of cases are in states with large cities, like New York, Illinois, and California.

Symptoms of monkeypox include:

  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion

It also includes a rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appear on the face, inside the mouth, or on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.

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This rash goes through different stages before it heals completely, with the illness typically lasting 2 to 4 weeks. In some cases, people will get the rash first, followed by other symptoms, while some will only get the rash.

How Does it Spread and Can I Avoid Becoming Infected?

Transmission of monkeypox is more involved than a common virus. The Maine CDC says it can spread:

  • When a person comes in contact with an infected animal
  • Through direct contact with body fluid or sores of an infected person
  • Through direct contact with contaminated materials, such as clothing or bedding
  • Through respiratory droplets during prolonged face-to-face contact with an infected person

The Maine CDC has issued the following recommendations to avoid getting monkeypox:

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with others who have a rash, sores, or scabs
  • Do not kiss, cuddle, hug, or have sex with someone who has a rash, sores, or scabs
  • Do not share eating utensils, towels, clothes, or bedding with someone who has a rash, sores, or scabs
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer

What Happens Now That It's Here in Maine?

Dr. Shah says the Maine CDC is now working to trace any people who may have also become infected. While there is no treatment for monkeypox, beyond possibly alleviating some symptoms with antiviral medications, there are vaccinations available for people who have been exposed and people who are more likely to get monkeypox. This includes people who have had contact with others diagnosed with monkeypox, who have had sexual partners diagnosed with monkeypox, or who have had multiple sexual partners in the past 2 weeks in an area known to have monkeypox.

Anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to monkeypox should contact their health professional for an assessment.

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