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Health department says first likely case of monkeypox has arrived in NM

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Matt Dahlseid, Santa Fe New Mexican
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Acting Health Secretary Dr. David Scrase

The New Mexico Department of Health announced Monday that the first "probable case" of monkeypox has cropped up in the state. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are reportedly conducting a second round of testing to confirm. DOH says the individual was likely exposed during out-of-state travel and is isolating at home.

Monkeypox has been around for decades, and remains rare in the U.S. with an estimated 866 cases, according to the CDC. Though, epidemiology professor at UCLA Anne Rimoin told NPR’s All Things Considered Monday that the national numbers may be misleading.

"I’m certain that we have many more cases out there than we’re aware of," she said. "And many people who don’t know how to access testing, or people who try to access it who just are not able to get it given the limited capacity at this point."

New Mexico’s health department says the virus is “rarely fatal.” Acting Secretary David Scrase said in a statement Monday that while risk remains low for most New Mexicans, the illness is a “public health concern for all of us.”

Infections, DOH says, usually last between two and four weeks and can include flu-like symptoms and skin sores.

Transmission can result from contact with these sores, items that have rubbed on the sores like sheets or clothes, or through saliva or sex, according to the department’s website.

DOH urges those with possible symptoms to isolate and contact their healthcare provider or a New Mexico Public Health Office to get tested.

Nash Jones (they/them) is a general assignment reporter in the KUNM newsroom and the local host of NPR's All Things Considered (weekdays, 5-7 p.m.). You can reach them at nashjones@kunm.org or on Twitter @nashjonesradio.
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