CHICAGO — Monkeypox is a rare viral illness that has infected at least 19 people in the United States so far. On Thursday, June 2, state and city health officials confirmed Illinois' first "probable case" in a Chicago man.
The Illinois Department of Public Health tested the man at one of its laboratories on Wednesday. That test came back positive.
The man is a "probable case" due to the initial epidemiologic characteristics and the initial positive test result. A confirmatory test is still pending at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Meanwhile, Chicago and state public health departments are working with the CDC and the patient's health care providers to find close contacts.
The patient did not require hospitalization for his symptoms and is isolated at home. No other information about the man will be released to protect his confidentiality.
Health officials do not believe there are any indications of a large risk of extensive local spread of the virus because monkeypox is not spread as easily as COVID-19, according to the IDPH.
The IDPH says person-to-person transmission is possible through close contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores, items that have been contaminated with fluids or sores, such as clothing and bedding, or respiratory droplets following prolonged face-to-face contact.
Monkeypox usually begins with flu-like symptoms and swelling of the lymph nodes, later progressing to a rash of the face and body. Health officials say monkeypox typically lasts two to four weeks.
"Anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, can spread monkeypox, but early data from this outbreak suggest that gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men make up a high number of initial cases," the IDPH said Thursday in a press release.
Monkeypox is usually found in parts of central and west Africa, according to the IDPH. People can be exposed to the viral illness through bites or scratches from rodents and small mammals, preparing wild game or having contact with an infected animal or animal products.
Multiple cases of monkeypox were reported in countries where the illness is usually not found, including the United States. As of June 1, the CDC has reported 19 confirmed cases of monkeypox in California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, Utah, Virginia and Washington.