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Missoula public health officials warn that monkeypox may spread to Montana within weeks

As of today, Montana is one of only eight states left without a reported case of monkeypox. Missoula public health officials suspect it’s only a matter of time before that changes.

Missoula City-County Health Promotion Director Cindy Farr says Montana’s rural nature and relatively low population has so far likely insulated it from monkeypox.

“But we definitely expect that we're probably going to see cases, and I would not be surprised if we start to see cases just, like, in the next couple of weeks.”

Missoula’s local health department urges medical professionals and residents to familiarize themselves with the virus. Farr compares it to chicken pox. Early symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache and swollen lymph nodes. A rash follows — little blisters that begin on the face and spread elsewhere.

People experiencing symptoms are encouraged to get tested. If the test results are positive, people should isolate until the rashes scab over, fall off and then are replaced by new skin.

Monkeypox spreads through direct contact with an infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids; respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face or intimate physical contact. It can also spread by touching items that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids.

Nationally many monkeypox cases have been reported in men who have sex with men, but Missoula public health officials stress anyone can get it.

Monkeypox vaccines exist but are currently in limited supply.

O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the University of Montana School of Journalism. His first career job out of school was covering the 1995 Montana Legislature. When the session wrapped up, O’Brien was fortunate enough to land a full-time position at the station as a general assignment reporter. Feel free to drop him a line at edward.obrien@umt.edu.