A Penn State student tested positive for monkeypox in the first confirmed case at a university park, according to the university and state Health Department.
The student tested positive on Aug. 8, according to a Penn State release Wednesday. 13 and is currently in isolation and recovering. Close contacts were identified and reported through DOH state contact tracing.
Symptoms of monkeypox are similar to chickenpox but milder, including fever, chills, respiratory problems, rash, etc. — and the disease is rarely fatal, but the skin lesions can be painful and scarring. It is less contagious than COVID-19 and most patients do not require treatment, the state DOH said.
Symptoms usually begin within three weeks of exposure and the pain usually lasts 2-4 weeks.
Penn State said University Health Services initially contacted the state DOH and the two agencies continue to monitor the case.
Five cases of monkeypox were reported Monday in northern Pennsylvania, but it was not clear whether the Penn State case was the first in Center County due to patient privacy concerns.
More than 13,000 monkeypox cases have been confirmed in the U.S., with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Pennsylvania reporting 362 cases as of Wednesday afternoon. Pennsylvania has the eighth-highest number of monkeypox cases in the nation, behind more populous states like New York (2,675), California (2,356), Florida (1,346) and Texas (1,078) and Georgia (1,033), Illinois (875) and others. New Jersey (367).
Note: This graphic is updated automatically as new data becomes available.
The first confirmed case in the US this year was in Massachusetts on May 18. The first case in Pennsylvania was on June 2 in Philadelphia.
Penn State issued a second news release Wednesday to provide more information to the public about the virus, which some believe is only sexually transmitted or through the LGBTQ community. In fact, anyone can have the virus and it can be spread through direct skin-to-skin contact or through intimate contact such as kissing or caressing. Even touching the body fluids of a person with monkeypox or touching objects or fabrics that have come in contact with body fluids, such as drinking from a glass or using a blanket, can spread the virus, the university said.
Infection during pregnancy can occur through infected animals or through the placenta.
What to know about signs, symptoms and prevention
The first symptoms of monkeypox usually include fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, swollen lymph nodes, general malaise, and fatigue. Patients usually develop a facial rash within three days of developing a fever, but not always.
According to the CDC, the virus is contagious from the time symptoms start until the rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a new layer of skin has formed.
“We know that students often live in close quarters and spend a lot of time in close contact with their peers, so we want our community to know the signs and symptoms of monkeypox and the steps they can take to protect themselves and the campus community. Penn State UHS Medical Director Rebecca Simczyk said in a written statement. “We are working closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and we have a response plan in place to diagnose, evaluate and treat students who have been exposed to the monkeypox virus.”
Students experiencing symptoms are encouraged to schedule an appointment with UHS or call the 24/7 nurse consultation at 814-865-4847 and press 3. Anyone who tests positive should stay away from home and family.
Students with monkeypox should “wait” for home isolation to end, as isolation can last up to four weeks. Student Affairs works with those who cannot travel and the virus spreads directly, faculty members are not notified if one of their students tests positive.
The Pennsylvania DOH has obtained a limited amount of the monkeypox vaccine from the federal strategic national stockpile and is making it available to public health departments and clinics that see high-risk individuals. Those at risk who believe they may be eligible for the vaccine should contact their healthcare provider or call 877-PA-HEALTH for more information.
More information about Penn State’s monkey disease can be found on the university’s Student Affairs Health and Wellness website.
This story was originally published August 18, 2022, 9:56 am.