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Archive for Friday, June 20, 2003

Monkeypox confirmed in Missourian

June 20, 2003

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— The first Missouri case of monkeypox was confirmed Thursday by the state Department of Health and Senior Services.

Tests by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta confirmed that a 38-year-old Platte County man contracted the disease.

A prairie dog owned by the man has been blamed for infecting a Kansas woman. The prairie dog was euthanized Wednesday by health officials.

Other animals owned by the unidentified man have been quarantined and local and state health officials are trying to determine if any other people have been exposed to the infected animal.

No animals show signs of the disease, but they will be monitored until mid-July, Missouri officials said.

Bryant McNally, director of the department's Division of Environmental Health and Communicable Disease Prevention, said the agency was working with the state Department of Agriculture "to take all the necessary steps to prevent the spread of monkeypox virus to other humans."

Missouri officials said Thursday there were no other confirmed or probable cases of monkeypox in the state.

A Leavenworth, Kan., woman bitten by the prairie dog on June 1 became ill June 10. She was hospitalized Sunday, and Kansas officials said Tuesday that preliminary tests confirmed she had the disease. The woman was placed in isolation at a Leavenworth hospital, in good condition.

Symptoms of monkeypox, which is most commonly found in central and western Africa, include fever, headache, muscle aches and rash.

Four people who may have been exposed to monkeypox by the Platte County prairie dog were given smallpox vaccinations by the Kansas City Health Department.

Health investigators have traced many of the more than 80 monkeypox cases recently reported in the Midwest to an exotic pet distributor in Illinois who also had Gambian giant rats from Africa.

Meanwhile, government tests confirmed Wednesday that an Illinois teenager being treated at a St. Louis hospital was infected with the disease.

The unidentified 14-year-old boy has been ordered to remain isolated at home after being treated June 10 at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital for monkeypox symptoms, including a rash, fever and aches.

Prairie dogs sold as exotic pets are thought to have been infected at Phil's Pocket Pets, a Chicago-area pet shop, by a Gambian giant rat imported from Africa. Federal officials said the prairie dogs may have been sold to buyers in 15 states. No one has died from the disease in the United States.

Missouri officials last week issued an alert to those who have prairie dogs while the federal government has banned the sale of prairie dogs.

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