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 July 21, 2003
House & Home
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Monkeypox Investigation Now Includes 15 States
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U.S. officials have expanded their investigation of the monkeypox outbreak to 15 states, the Associated Press reports.

A warning issued Wednesday by the Department of Agriculture Emergency Management says that monkeypox-infected prairie dogs from a pet distributor in Villa Park, Ill., may have been sold to numerous buyers in those states since April 15.

The states are: Florida, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, officials are expected to decide today whether to offer smallpox vaccinations to people who've had contact with humans and prairie dogs or other animals infected with the monkeypox virus.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will likely make the smallpox vaccinations available to specific groups of people, The New York Times reports.

They include people who've been exposed to animals sick with monkeypox, veterinarians treating animals suspected of having the virus, scientists investigating monkeypox, and health-care workers caring for people with the virus.

Smallpox vaccine is potentially dangerous, but it does protect people against monkeypox.

It's also expected that the CDC today will announce its definition of monkeypox. That will help determine who might be eligible to receive the smallpox vaccine and help in the investigation of the outbreak.

Nine human cases of monkeypox have been confirmed, four in Wisconsin, four in Indiana and one in Illinois. There are 50 possible cases: 23 in Indiana, 20 in Wisconsin, six in Illinois and one in New Jersey, the AP reports.

No one has died of the disease.

Investigators say it appears about 200 prairie dogs captured in Texas and shipped to the Chicago-area pet distributor contracted monkeypox from a giant Gambian rat at the same store, the AP reports.

Officials are attempting to trace anyone who bought a prairie dog from the pet distributor since mid-April. They're also trying to track about 50 Gambian rats shipped from Africa to a Texas importer.

Initial symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headaches, dry cough, swollen lymph nodes, chills and sweating. Within one to 10 days, a person infected with the virus may develop rashes that consist of blister-like pimples. These pimples, which are filled with pus, break open and produce scabs, The Times reports.

Monkeypox, previously non-existent in the Western Hemisphere, is fatal in about 10 percent of human cases.


-- Robert Preidt

Copyright � 2003 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.

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