Florida health officials confirm first case of monkeypox in Orange County

CDC data shows 9 cases in Florida

As more cases are identified, Orange County has confirmed its first case of monkeypox.

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – As more cases are identified, Orange County has confirmed its first case of monkeypox.

Florida Department of Health data last updated Thursday shows there is one case in Orange County.

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Monkeypox is a virus that originates in wild animals like rodents and primates, and occasionally jumps to people. It belongs to the same virus family as smallpox. Health leaders said monkeypox is an infection transmitted between animals and humans with most cases reported in Central and West Africa.

Health officials are still investigating, but a top adviser to the World Health Organization said in May the leading theory behind the outbreak is that monkeypox was likely spread after sexual activity at two recent raves in Europe.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are nine total cases in Florida.

Dr. Jarod Fox, the chief of the infectious disease department at Orlando Health, is trying to calm concerns now that Central Florida has its first confirmed case of monkeypox.

“The good thing is it’s not an extremely infectious organism, so a lot of people are going to be scared but I don’t want them to be,” Fox said.

According to the Florida Department of Health, the local case involves a person between 35 and 39 years old and they acquired it in Florida. Health officials said the person is isolated and receiving treatment. Officials are also contact tracing to see who they’ve interacted with.

Fox said we’ll likely see more cases.

“There will be at least a handful of cases just from the spread of that one individual and we may have other clusters of infections as well,” he said.

The CDC said monkeypox is rare and the threat to the general population is low.

Symptoms to look out for include fever, headache, muscle and backaches, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. Health officials, however, stress monkeypox does not spread as easily as COVID-19 and is rarely fatal.

“It requires some close contact so it’s not going to spread to the same extent as COVID did,” Fox said.

The WHO will convene an emergency committee of experts on June 23 “because the virus has shown ‘unusual’ recent behavior by spreading in countries well beyond parts of Africa where it is endemic,” according to the Associated Press.

About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined ClickOrlando.com in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.