Updated at 5:49 p.m.
Vermont health authorities on Friday reported the state’s first confirmed monkeypox case as the virus continues to spread nationwide.
The patient is an adult from Franklin County, according to a press release Friday from the Vermont Department of Health. The department is not releasing additional information to protect the patient’s privacy, according to the release.
The patient is under the care of the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington and is being treated at home, according to spokesperson Annie Mackin. The Department of Health said the risk of community transmission is “very low.”
Monkeypox, a contagious virus that recently triggered a global health emergency declaration from the World Health Organization, has now spread to nearly every U.S. state. Up until this week, the Green Mountain State was one of the last holdouts.
Ben Truman, spokesperson at the Vermont Department of Health, said that the state is prepared to handle the virus’s arrival.
“We’ve been working closely with the (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and health care providers and hospitals to protect Vermonters,” Truman said, “and that includes vaccines and vaccine distribution plans.”
Vermont has received an allocation of 86 doses to date, and is expected to receive an additional 134 doses next week. The federal government allocated Vermont up to 340 doses in all, said Monica Ogelby, immunization program manager at the state Department of Health.
Ogelby said the state plans to use the vaccine supply to treat people who came in contact with an infected person. The available doses have been distributed in geographic hubs across the state to make sure the vaccine reaches the people who need it quickly, she said.
The news comes a day after neighboring New York State declared the virus an imminent threat as the burden of infections there quickly became the highest in the nation.
A rarer and less deadly cousin of smallpox, monkeypox is believed to have spread to humans from rodents sometime in the 1970s. The virus was first discovered in African monkey colonies in the 1950s. Before the latest outbreak, most new infections either happened in Africa or have been linked to recent travel there.
The virus, which also goes by mpox or hMPXV, transmits through bodily fluids and close contact. It causes fever, chills and body aches. People with the disease also develop a rash that looks like pimples or blisters on their face, inside their mouths or on their hands and feet, according to the CDC. The disease runs its course within two to four weeks.
Most people with the virus recover fully with no long-term side effects, according to Ogelby, but pregnant people, immunocompromised people, those with existing skin diseases such as eczema, and children under age 8 are at higher risk for complications from the disease.
The overwhelming number of cases thus far have been recorded in men who have sex with men, according to the CDC. Ogelby said the state plans to have targeted outreach to providers that care for higher-risk populations to ensure access to the vaccine.
To date, roughly 4,900 Americans have been diagnosed with the disease, the CDC says. Roughly 1,200 of those cases are in New York state.
There are no specific treatments for monkeypox, but certain antivirals that work against smallpox can ease symptoms of the disease, according to the CDC. There’s a limited supply of smallpox vaccines, and the CDC says there’s no data on their efficacy against the current outbreak.
Clarification: An earlier version of this story was unclear about how the disease is impacting particular demographics.
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