PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Four Rhode Islanders have tested positive for the monkeypox virus, according to the Rhode Island Department of Health.
The Health Department reported the fourth monkeypox case Thursday, more than a month after disclosing its first probable case.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that so far, there have been more than 1,000 cases of monkeypox reported this year, including 49 in neighboring Massachusetts.
In response, the Health Department has activated its Monkeypox Task Force and is coordinating with health care providers and communities to prevent and control the spread of the disease.
“The risk of monkeypox for most Rhode Islanders is low,” Gov. Dan McKee said. “However, we are taking this global outbreak very seriously.”
The United States reported its first monkeypox case in a Massachusetts man back in May. The Mass. Department of Public Health said the man had just returned from a trip to Canada.
Rhode Island’s first monkeypox case was believed to be connected to travel to Massachusetts.
There have been no deaths connected to the outbreak, as monkeypox is rarely fatal. Most people recover from monkeypox within two to four weeks.
The monkeypox virus isn’t easily transmissible among people. The virus spreads through direct contact with bodily fluids and monkeypox sores, or by touching items contaminated by infected fluids.
Early signs of monkeypox infection can include fever, headache, sore throat and swollen lymph nodes. Those symptoms are typically followed by a rash on the face and body.
Rhode Island has only been allocated enough doses to vaccinate close contacts at this time, since the vaccine is in short supply nationally.
“We are laying out future plans to get more prevention tools and resources into the community as they are made available by the federal government,” Interim Health Director Utpala Bandy said.
In the meantime, the Monkeypox Task Force is performing contact tracing, post-exposure vaccination and working with organizations in high-risk communities on prevention education.