COLUMBIA, S.C. — Health officials in South Carolina are monitoring multiple people who were on a flight with a person in the United Kingdom who is known to have monkeypox, the Department of Health and Environmental Control said Tuesday.
DHEC said those contacts currently have no symptoms. There have been no confirmed cases of monkeypox in South Carolina.
DHEC said it is following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for monkeypox monitoring. Febrile rash illnesses, which would include monkeypox, are reportable conditions in South Carolina.
DHEC said health care providers should report any suspected cases to the state, which will investigate and conduct testing to confirm or rule out the virus.
Monkeypox was first identified in 1958. The first known human infection was in 1970 in Africa, where the disease is now endemic.
The CDC says monkeypox is transmitted when a person comes in contact with the virus from an animal, human or materials that are contaminated with the virus. The virus enters the body through broken skin (even if not visible), the respiratory tract, or the mucous membranes (eyes, nose or mouth).
Animal-to-human contact can occur if an infected animal bites or scratches a person. Human-to-human transmission primarily occurs through close physical contact with bodily fluids, respiratory droplets, skin lesions or recently contaminated objects, the CDC and WHO say.
“Transmission via droplet respiratory particles usually requires prolonged face-to-face contact, which puts health workers, household members and other close contacts of active cases at greater risk,” the WHO explains.
Saralyn Mark, M.D., former senior medical advisor to The White House under President Barack Obama, told VERIFY she is much more worried about COVID-19 and is not worried monkeypox will reach pandemic-level.
“The basic public health measures that we need to employ to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 will certainly be quite effective for monkeypox. Again, it's a disease where you really have to have direct contact with an individual. I am much more concerned about coronavirus at the moment,” Mark said.