JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. – Health officials in Jefferson County have announced the area’s first confirmed case of monkeypox.

The Jefferson County Health Department’s communicable disease team is examining potential exposure risks to other individuals. The team will notify anyone at risk to monitor themselves for symptoms.

Monkeypox health screenings and vaccines are available in Jefferson County, the health department said.

To protect patient confidentiality, the health department is not releasing any additional information on the case.

Monkeypox (clinically referred to as orthopox) is in the same family of viruses as smallpox. Its symptoms are similar, though milder, to smallpox. It is important to know monkeypox can be fatal in rare instances. There are long-established vaccines and treatments for those infected.

According to the CDC, the monkeypox virus was discovered in 1958 in monkeys being kept for research. While the name of the virus is derived from its discovery, the actual source of monkeypox is unknown.

The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970, in a child living in a remote rainforest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Monkeypox symptoms will present anywhere between seven and 14 days after exposure. The disease itself lasts two to four weeks.

Symptoms include fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, muscle ache, backache, chills, and exhaustion. Pimple or blister-like rashes will appear on an infected person’s face or inside their mouth and eventually spread across the body.

The virus can spread from the time symptoms first appear until the rashes themselves have fully healed.

Monkeypox is spread through person-to-person contact, including (but not limited to):

  • Direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids;
  • Respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex; and
  • Touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids.

Infected pregnant people can also spread the virus to their fetuses through the placenta.