INDIANAPOLIS — The Marion County Health Department is reporting monkeypox has spread to central Indiana.

On Wednesday, the Marion County Public Health Department confirmed two probable cases of monkeypox. These are the first cases reported in Marion County.

“Even though the risk of transmission is very low here, we all need to be aware of the facts about this virus, including risk factors and how it’s spread,” said Virginia A. Caine, M.D., director and chief medical officer of the Marion County Public Health Department. “We are still learning more about monkeypox and encourage anyone with concerns about their health to contact a primary care physician or healthcare provider.”

Caine said she believes the state will continue to see more cases of the virus.

Monkeypox, clinically known as orthopox, is a disease related to smallpox—or variola—though monkeypox is typically less severe. It was first discovered in 1958 in monkeys who were being kept for research, hence the colloquial name of the disease.

As of July 12, the CDC reports a total of 929 confirmed monkeypox cases across the United States. Almost every state has at least one report of monkeypox, with New York and California experiencing the most cases.

The United States has a scattered history of monkeypox, including an outbreak that occurred in 2003, with cases reported in Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. That outbreak happened after a shipment of animals introduced the virus into the United States.

Unlike COVID-19, which is airborne, monkeypox is “not something you can get passing somebody on the street,” a senior administration health official said. Respiratory droplets generally cannot travel more than a few feet, so prolonged face-to-face contact is required.

Monkeypox typically presents 7-14 days after exposure and symptoms include fever, headache, muscle ache, backaches, chills, exhaustion, and swollen lymph nodes—which is the main distinguishing symptomatic factor between smallpox and monkeypox. Smallpox does not typically cause swollen lymph nodes.

One to three days after the onset of fever, patients develop a rash that typically begins on the face and then spreads to other areas of the body. The lesions then progress through different stages before falling off.

Monkeypox usually lasts two to four weeks, according to the CDC. The CDC says anyone with a rash that looks like monkeypox should talk to their healthcare provider. People who may be at higher risk might include, but are not limited to, those who:

  • Had contact with someone who had a rash that looks like monkeypox or someone who was diagnosed with confirmed or probable monkeypox
  • Had skin-to-skin contact with someone in a social network experiencing monkeypox activity, this includes men who have sex with men who meet partners through an online website, digital application or social events like bars or a party
  • Traveled outside the US to a country with confirmed cases of monkeypox or where monkeypox activity has been ongoing
  • Had contact with a dead or live wild animal or exotic pet that exists only in Africa or used a product derived from such animals (e.g., game meat, creams, lotions, powders, etc.)