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First known monkeypox case reported on Maui

The Maui News

The state Department of Health has reported the first known case of monkeypox in a Maui resident, bringing the total number of cases in Hawaii since June 3 to 12.

The Maui case is associated with travel outside of the state, the department said Thursday, emphasizing that the risk remains low but that residents should take precautions.

On Thursday, the federal government declared a public health emergency for monkeypox to allow money and other resources to go toward fighting the virus, which has infected more than 7,100 people across the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The risk to most Hawaii residents remains low, but action now is essential for protecting public health,” said Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Nathan Tan. “We continue to ensure that case investigation continues, and that testing and vaccination are available — especially in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by this outbreak.”

Monkeypox is mainly spread through close, intimate contact with body fluids, lesion material or items used by someone with monkeypox, according to the Department of Health. Monkeypox may be spread through large respiratory droplets, which generally cannot travel more than a few feet, so prolonged contact is required.

Nationwide, the current cases are primarily spreading among social networks of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. In Hawaii, at least some of the cases have been reported among gay or bisexual men, the department said, adding that anyone who has close contact with someone with monkeypox is at risk of infection, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The department has distributed nearly 1,000 doses of the monkeypox vaccine, which is currently eligible to:

• People who have had exposure to others with confirmed orthopoxvirus/monkeypox virus within the last 14 days.

• Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men and transgender people with high-risk intimate contact in venues or areas where monkeypox is known to be spreading in the last 14 days.

Anyone who meets these criteria in all counties should call the department at (808) 586-4462 for an appointment. The phone line is available from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Those calling outside of regular business hours can leave a voicemail.

On Maui, appointments are available through Malama I Ke Ola Health Center. To make an appointment, call (808) 871-7772 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday or 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday.

Anyone with monkeypox symptoms, including flu-like symptoms, swollen lymph nodes, or new or unexplained rash or sores, should immediately contact their health care provider, the Health Department said. Testing and treatment are available through health care providers.

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