The monkeypox rash, appearing as bumps or blisters, can be very painful and can be accompanied by flu-like symptoms such as fever, body aches and fatigue. Photo: Adobe Stock

The first confirmed case of monkeypox has been identified in a Suffolk County resident, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services announced today.

The case is one of 96 currently confirmed orthopoxvirus, or monkeypox, cases in New York State and approximately 400 in the United States to date.

The individual was seen by a local healthcare provider and is following isolation protocols at home, the health department said in a press release.

Suffolk County health officials are communicating with the individual and will contact persons who may have been exposed, the health department said.

“While the current risk to the general public is low, we urge the public as well as healthcare providers in Suffolk County to be aware that this rare virus has been found in the region and to know the signs and symptoms and manner of transmission of the monkeypox virus,” Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. Gregson Pigott said.

Monkeypox can spread from person-to-person most often through direct and prolonged contact with the infectious rash, scabs, body fluids, or respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex. It may also spread by touching items, such as clothing or linens with infectious body fluids. Pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta.

Anyone with a rash that looks like monkeypox should talk to their healthcare provider, even if they don’t think they had contact with someone who has monkeypox.

Recent monkeypox cases in the region have involved a rash that is often in the genital and peri-anal regions and may include other symptoms such as fever, swollen lymph nodes, and pain when swallowing, before or after the rash appearance. The rash can also appear in other areas such as hands, feet, chest, or face. Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, and fatigue are also associated with the virus, both before or after the rash appears, or not at all.

Most infections last two to four weeks.

The New York State Department of Health has alerted New York healthcare providers so they have information regarding reporting and case testing.

More information about monkeypox at the New York State Department of Health website: www.health.ny.gov/monkeypox

Testing for orthopoxvirus was conducted at the New York State Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center Laboratory.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.