TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—While Tompkins County has yet to see its first monkeypox case, the local health department has issued a warning as cases rise elsewhere in New York.

The health department states that there have now been 86 cases found in New York state total, with 78 of those in New York City, five found in Westchester County, and one case each in Sullivan County, Chemung County and Rockland County. There have been no monkeypox-related deaths in New York.

Monkeypox is a viral infection that can cause “severe illness, hospitalization and, rarely, death” if left untreated, according to TCHD. It can be spread in the following ways:

  • Skin-to-skin contact with monkeypox sores or rashes; or skin contact with dressings, fabrics etc. which have come into contact with skin lesions.
  • Being within 3 feet of an infected person (especially if they are coughing) since respiratory droplets and oral fluids from someone with monkeypox are contagious.

“We are issuing this press release to keep the community informed about this disease and the steps to take to prevent exposure,” said Public Health Director Frank Kruppa. “This disease rarely results in death but can be extremely painful and cause permanent, severe scarring to those infected. We advise taking steps to prevent infection and contacting your health care provider right away if you suspect you may have come in contact with someone who has the disease or if you are experiencing symptoms.”

Risk of contracting the disease is low, but the health department stated that people should still be careful, particularly if they are high-risk or immunocompromised.

Symptoms include bumps and rashes around the genitals, and other areas of the body if not otherwise explained. The rashes can have a variety of appearances as different strains of monkeypox start to spread. Someone could also experience flu-like symptoms and swollen lymph glands.

To avoid monkeypox, avoid people with symptoms and ask sexual partners if they have a rash or monkeypox symptoms. If they do, avoid sex until they are evaluated. Reach out to healthcare providers if you’re experience symptoms or have been exposed. It can take 21 days between exposure and symptom presentation.

More from the Health Department:

If you are concerned about your risk, your health care provider can perform a risk-assessment and identify the appropriate steps to take. Treatments are available for those who meet criteria and are infected with monkeypox, including antiviral medication. A vaccine is used for those at high risk of infection who meet criteria.

Anyone who does not currently have a health care provider or who is uninsured and seeking a local provider should call 2-1-1 (1-877-211-8667).

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Managing Editor at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com