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St. Joseph County reports first case of monkeypox, one week after Elkhart County’s first case

Monkeypox virus particles obtained from a clinical sample associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak.
Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regnery
Monkeypox virus particles obtained from a clinical sample associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak.

St. Joseph County is reporting its first case of monkeypox, according to a Tuesday news release from the health department. The case comes after at least one case was identified in Elkhart County last week.

Health department officials say the risk to the community at-large is currently low, but that residents are urged to watch for symptoms and seek medical care if necessary.

Monkeypox typically presents as a blister-like rash, which can be quite variable, ranging from only a few skin lesions to a sizable number of them. Other symptoms include fever, headache, chills and exhaustion.

Illness typically lasts two to four weeks and can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed.

The virus is primarily spread through close contact with an infected person, according to the health department. Those methods include:

  • Direct contact with the rash, scabs, or bodily fluids
  • Prolonged, face-to-face contact or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sexual activity
  • Touching dirty items (clothing, bedding, etc.) that have been touched by the infectious rash or bodily fluids
  • Pregnant people can also transmit the virus to the fetus through the placenta

The CDC says people exposed to Monkeypox should get vaccinated, especially if your sexual partner tested positive in the past two weeks.
The U.S. is currently using two types of smallpox vaccine to fight monkeypox, but supplies are limited. The CDC recommends inoculation within four days of exposure, and no later than two weeks after exposure to reduce symptoms.

The monkeypox virus typically circulates in West Africa but has been spreading this summer in countries that typically don’t report cases. The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern on Saturday.

Locally, monkeypox has been circulating in Indiana and Michigan since late June. As of July 25, the CDC reports 33 cases in Indiana and 24 in Michigan, with 3,487 confirmed nationwide.

The Midwest saw a monkeypox outbreak in 2003 that originated in a shipment of animals from Ghana to Illinois. It spread to humans through pet dogs, with 47 people catching the virus. All appear to have recovered without further transmitting the virus.

Contact Jakob at or follow him on Twitter at @JakobLazzaro.

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Jakob Lazzaro came to Indiana from Chicago, where he graduated from Northwestern University in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and a double major in History. Before joining WVPE, he wrote NPR's Source of the Week e-mail newsletter, and previously worked for CalMatters, Pittsburgh's 90.5 WESA and North by Northwestern.