By Shereen Siewert

A resident in Dane County is the first person in Wisconsin to test positive for orthopoxvirus, presumed to be monkeypox, according to the Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services.

The patient is currently isolating. As of June 30, there have been 396 confirmed monkeypox and orthopoxvirus cases in the U.S. due to this outbreak. State health officials, who say there is little risk to the public at this time, are working with federal and local partners to investigate and monitor the outbreak.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ryan Westergaard said the case is not a surprise, given the virus has been detected elsewhere in the country.

Officials are now advising a monkeypox shot for anyone potentially exposed to a confirmed case in the last two weeks. About 56,000 shots will be sent to affected areas soon, and the White House plans availability of about 300,000 in the next several weeks and 1.6 million in total by the end of 2022.

Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease were detected in colonies of monkeys kept for research purposes. Despite being named “monkeypox,” the source of the disease remains unknown, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970.

“While it’s likely that additional cases will be found among Wisconsinites, we are relieved that this disease does not spread easily from person to person. We’d like for all clinicians to remain alert to patients with compatible rashes and encourage them to test for monkeypox. We want the public to know that the risk of widespread transmission remains low.”

Monkeypox is typically characterized by a new, unexplained rash and skin lesions. Other early symptoms of monkeypox include fever, chills, and swollen lymph nodes. Recently identified cases have developed skin lesions in the genital, groin, and anal regions that might be confused with rashes caused by common diseases such as herpes and syphilis.

Most people with monkeypox recover in two to four weeks without needing treatment.

Health officials say people who had known exposure to someone with monkeypox should talk with a doctor or nurse to learn if they are eligible to receive a vaccine. This includes people who were specifically identified as someone who had close or intimate in-person contact with someone with the characteristic monkeypox rash or someone with a probable or confirmed monkeypox diagnosis.

DHS officials say monkeypox does not spread easily from person to person. The virus is transmitted through respiratory droplets, sustained skin-to-skin contact, and contact with items that have been contaminated with the fluids or sores of a person with monkeypox. Anyone can develop and spread this disease after being exposed to the virus. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that most cases of monkeypox in the U.S. have occurred among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM).

Prevent the spread: Know the facts

  • Know the symptoms and risk factors of monkeypox.
  • Avoid skin-to-skin contact with people who are showing a rash or skin sores. Don’t touch the rash or scabs, and don’t kiss, hug, cuddle, have sex, or share items such as eating utensils or bedding with someone with monkeypox.
  • In jurisdictions with known monkeypox spread, participating in activities with close, personal, skin-to-skin contact may pose a higher risk of exposure.
  • If you were recently exposed to the virus, contact a doctor or nurse to talk about whether you need a vaccine to prevent disease. Monitor your health for fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes and a new, unexplained rash, and contact a health care provider if any of those occur. If you become ill, avoid contact with others until you receive health care.

The DHS Outbreaks in Wisconsin webpage will be updated with the latest case counts of monkeypox.

For free, confidential support finding health care and community resources near you, dial 211 or 877-947-2211, or text your ZIP code to 898-211. Find resources online at is external).