SANTA FE, N.M. (KAMR/KCIT) — A news release from the New Mexico Department of Health reports that the state may have its first case of monkeypox.

According to the news release, the patient returned from out-of-state travel and may have been exposed to monkeypox through close contact. The NMDOH said its scientific laboratory division completed initial testing Friday and is currently waiting for a confirmation test from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Monkeypox is a very rare disease in the United States, and it’s important to keep in perspective that monkeypox does not spread as easily among people,” said Acting Department of Health Secretary, David R. Scrase, M.D. “While the risk for most people remains low, anyone who has close contact with someone with monkeypox is at risk of infection, which makes this a public health concern for all of us.”  

According to the DOH, the patient is doing well and is currently isolated at their home.

Symptoms of monkeypox usually start within 21 days of exposure to the virus beginning with flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, or exhaustion said the DOH.

The DOH continues saying that infection progresses to rash or sores, often on the hands, feet, chest, face, or genitals. Most infections last two to four weeks, and people should isolate themselves at home until they are no longer infectious. A person is no longer infectious once all the scabs have fallen off and a fresh layer of skin has formed.

According to the DOH, monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, personal, and often skin-to-skin contact, including:

  • Direct contact with monkeypox rash, sores, or scabs from a person with monkeypox.
  • Contact with objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that someone with monkeypox has used. 
  • Contact with respiratory secretions, through kissing and other face-to-face contact.

Those with symptoms of monkeypox should isolate themselves at home, contact their healthcare provider for testing, and notify their healthcare provider that they are concerned about a possible monkeypox infection. Individuals without a healthcare provider or health insurance can find a Public Health Office near them and call to make an appointment said the DOH.

According to a CDC recommendation, a monkeypox vaccine can help prevent or reduce symptoms of the disease.

The DOH said that monkeypox symptoms can mimic the symptoms of syphilis, a more common infection. Testing for syphilis and other STDs can be found here and information in Spanish can be found here.

More information from the New Mexico Department of Health on monkeypox can be found here and information from the CDC can be found on its website.