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Possible monkeypox case being investigated at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu

By Matthew Nuttle and ‘A’ali’i Dukelow

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    HONOLULU, Hawaii (KITV) — A possible case of Monkeypox is being investigated at Tripler Army Medical Center, hospital officials confirm.

The patient was admitted to the hospital this week and that person has been isolated and is in stable condition, according to hospital officials.

Since identifying the possible monkeypox case, Tripler says it has been contact with the Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as other health agencies.

“Right now, we just continue business as usual. Remain with COVID guidelines. Everybody in the building must wear a mask, maintain distance, wash our hands, sanitize,” Tripler hospital officials said in a statement.

According to the DOH, the patient is an adult Oahu resident who recently traveled to an area with confirmed cases. That person is exhibiting symptoms consistent with the disease, DOH said.

Health officials say monkeypox shares many commonalities with smallpox, like causing blistering skin rashes. It is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus. Infection begins with flu-like symptoms and swollen lymph nodes, and progresses to a rash or sores, often on the hands, feet, chest, face, or genitals. Individuals generally become ill within 21 days of exposure, the DOH said.

Still, they say this disease should not cause people to panic because, unlike COVID-19, monkeypox does not spread through respiratory transmission but rather it spreads through direct physical contact with an infected person.

“Monkeypox does not spread easily from person to person, and the risk remains low for most Hawaii residents,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble. “DOH continues case investigation and is coordinating with federal authorities to ensure that Hawaii has the resources we need to prevent and treat monkeypox infection.”

Twenty cases of monkeypox have been identified across 11 states, as well as an additional case in the United States who was infected and tested elsewhere, said Dr. Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the CDC’s Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology.

A spokesperson at the hospital issued the following statement about the potential monkeypox case, saying in part:

“A patient has been admitted to Tripler Army Medical Center with a probable case of monkeypox. The individual is in isolation and is recovering. Contact tracing is underway for hospital staff and patients that may have been exposed. Initial testing was done by the Hawaii Department of Health, we will continue to coordinate with them and federal agencies as this situation evolves. Confirmatory testing will be performed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention next week.”

According to the CDC, many cases have appeared among men who engage in sexual relations with other men.

Epidemiologist Joe Elm and Kemble emphasized monkeypox is transmitted through close, prolonged interactions.

“Primarily it’s going to be direct skin to skin contact, or potentially close prolonged contact because of that potential for droplet spread from saliva,” Kemble said.

Elm added, “while monkeypox can be spread through large respiratory droplets, the monkeypox virus generally does not travel more than a few feet so prolonged face to face contact is usually required.”

The State Laboratories Division detected orhopoxvirus in the O’ahu patient — monkeypox is a strain of that virus.

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