Archive for Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Resident of county contracts monkeypox

June 25, 2003

A Leavenworth County woman diagnosed with monkeypox last week was readmitted to St. John Hospital on Tuesday.

Cindy McGuire, marketing and volunteer services coordinator at St. John Hospital, Leavenworth, said the patient, whom she described as "an adult woman who lives in Leavenworth County," was listed in fair condition on Tuesday afternoon.

The woman had been released from St. John last Thursday after spending five days in the hospital. While in the hospital, she was kept under quarantine.

This is the first confirmed case of monkeypox in Kansas, McGuire said. The woman developed symptoms after being bitten by a prairie dog, McGuire said.

"She was concerned that it might be monkeypox, so she came into our facility to seek treatment," McGuire said. "After she let the doctors and nurses know that she had been bitten, they took the initiative to get the testing done to see if it was monkeypox."

The woman was bitten while at a friend's house in northwestern Missouri.

"The friend had several prairie dogs as pets," McGuire said. "The owner was bitten and she was also bitten."

Hospital workers have been following standard procedures for treating patients who have infectious diseases, McGuire said.

"Once they determined that this was possibly monkeypox, they immediately put her in an isolation room," she added.

The owner of the prairie dog has also been diagnosed with monkeypox, said Sharon Watson of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The woman was bitten around the first of June, became ill around June 10, and went to the hospital on June 15, Watson said.

Monkeypox, which is related to chickenpox and smallpox, can be spread through airborne droplets.

"It's not as easily spread as smallpox," McGuire said. "The Centers for Disease Control indicated they have not seen it spread from human to human," McGuire said. "It's mainly been spread from animals to humans, but since it's in the same family as chickenpox and smallpox, they take all of the precautions."

Watson said she believed the woman contracted monkeypox by being bitten by the prairie dog.

"But it's believed you can also contract it from handling a sick prairie dog," Watson said.

Two nurses, each of whom had taken smallpox vaccinations, were the only hospital employees caring for the woman.

"They have to wear special masks, be fully gowned and gloved when they go in the room," McGuire said.

McGuire said because the woman had been diagnosed with monkeypox, three members of her family had received smallpox vaccinations.

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