Johnson County man identified as Kansas’s first presumed positive case of monkeypox

Kansas health officials announced the first "presumptive positive" case of monkeypox in the state. Image courtesy of Cynthia Goldsmith / CDC

Kansas and Johnson County health officials on Saturday announced the state’s first “presumptive positive” case of monkeypox had been identified in a Johnson County man.

What do we know? While the man is presumed positive, the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment says it is still awaiting “confirmatory test results” from the CDC.

  • JCDHE says the man did not travel outside the country, has not required hospitalization and is isolating at home.
  • The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is also monitoring the man’s known close contacts, according to a statement from KDHE.
  • No other cases of monkeypox have been identified in Johnson County or the state of Kansas as of Saturday.

Key quote: “The risk of monkeypox spreading in Kansas remains low. If you are experiencing symptoms of monkeypox illness, it’s important to stay home and contact your health care provider as soon as possible to avoid spreading the disease to others,” said Janet Stanek, Kansas state health secretary.

Bigger picture: Monkeypox is not as easily transmissible as the novel coronavirus that spurred the global COVID-19 pandemic because it requires “prolonged person-to-person contact,” according to JCDHE, or direct contact with an exposed person’s bodily fluids or contaminated materials, such as dirty clothes or linens.

  • The first case of monkeypox in the U.S. was confirmed in May, and that number has since grown to more than 800, though experts say the number is likely much higher.
  • There have been at least three positive cases identified in neighboring Missouri.

What are the symptoms? According to state health officials, people infected with monkeypox typically experience fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.

  • After that, they may see the onset of a rash that can look like pimples or blisters, which may appear on the face, inside the mouth and on other parts of the body like hands, feet and chest.

What should I do if I think I’m infected? Both JCDHE and KDHE officials urge anyone who thinks they may be infected to seek care from their health care provider.

  • The monkeypox vaccine is available to those with a known exposure to a confirmed monkeypox case but health officials say the vaccine supply remains extremely limited in the U.S. at this time.
  • NBC News reports that the federal government will soon ship 144,000 doses of a two-shot monkeypox vaccine to cities and states starting Monday.