Oklahoma identified its first probable case of monkeypox Friday. The Oklahoma State Department of Health Department said the person caught it while they were in another country.
They tested positive for monkeypox upon returning to the United States.
State health officials said the monkeypox virus isn't a new one, but it has popped up in places not typical to central Oklahoma. Those who become infected will know when they get a telltale rash.
"Occasionally, we do see cases of monkeypox in the United States from travelers that have traveled to that part of Africa," OSDH state epidemiologist Jolianne Stone said.
Monkeypox is a distant relative of smallpox, that was considered endemic in Africa. Now, monkeypox cases have been confirmed in Australia, Canada and Europe in addition to the United States.
Oklahoma now joins thirteen other states and Washington D.C. with a probable monkeypox case.
"Luckily, with monkeypox, it's not nearly as transmissible as some other viruses," Stone said. “The primary way that it is passed to others is through direct physical contact with an individual who has monkeypox.”
Someone in close quarters to a person with monkeypox for a long period of time can also catch the virus through large droplets or from contaminated objects “such as bedding that might be contaminated with fluid from lesions or body fluids," according to Stone.
Lesions are the telltale rash. Those with the virus will develop it on the palms of hands and soles of feet. They are also filled with those contaminated fluids.
"Maybe on the top part of your hands, as well,” Stone said. “Sometimes, we do see it on the face. [In] this particular situation, we have seen rashes on the genital area, as well."
Monkeypox can be passed person-to-person or from animal-to-person. The destruction of natural habitats may lead to more similar outbreaks.
"Destruction of wild places and human and animal conflict bring humans much more closer to animals and we can see diseases like this transmit more regularly," OKC Zoo associate veterinarian Gretchen Cole said.
There is a monkeypox vaccine available, but states will have reach out to the Centers for Disease Control in order to get doses.
Right now, they're used on a case-by-case basis for people who've had close contact with the virus.