Monkeypox: Ohioans may have been exposed to ‘potentially serious’ virus on recent flights

The Ohio Department of Public Safety and Ohio EMS are alerting area doctors and EMS providers after Ohio residents may have been exposed to the monkeypox virus while on flights from Nigeria, Atlanta and Dallas.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed a single case of monkeypox on July 15, 2021 in a citizen who resides in the United States and recently returned from travel to Nigeria,” the state said in a media release. “The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) was recently informed that there may have been Ohio residents on these flights, and the CDC is in the process of contacting airline passengers and others who may have had contact with this citizen.”

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“The flights taken by this citizen were Lagos Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Nigeria to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Georgia on July 8 and Atlanta, Georgia to Dallas Love Field Airport in Texas on July 9,” the state said.

Despite the potential exposure, the state said the mandatory requirement to wear masks on all flights and in airports makes the risk of respiratory droplet transmission of monkeypox to others low.

Monkeypox is a potentially serious viral illness found regularly in several Central and West African nations. The virus is rare.

According to the state, monkeypox typically begins with flu-like illness and swelling of the lymph nodes and progresses to a widespread rash on the face and body. It typically shows up in five to 13 days after exposure and most infections last around two to four weeks.

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Monkeypox is in the same viral family as smallpox, but causes a milder infection, according to state officials.

“The human-to-human transmission of the virus is primarily through respiratory droplets; however, it can also be transmitted via contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores, or items that have been contaminated with fluids or sores,” the state said. “Although antivirals may be beneficial, there is no specific treatment for monkeypox.”

The state is asking all Ohio doctors and EMS to be aware of the signs and symptoms of the virus.

Early symptoms of the virus include a fever, malaise, headache, muscle aches and new swollen lymph nodes. A rash similar to smallpox then develops.