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MassDPH Says 115 Cases of Monkeypox Reported in State While Local Officials Say None Found in Burlington

The state is reporting new cases of monkeypox in Massachusetts though local health officials say they have not been made aware of any cases in Burlington.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) said in a July 29 statement that 36 additional cases of monkeypox in adult males had been reported within the past seven days, bringing the total number of cases in the Commonwealth to 115 since the state’s first case was announced May 18. 

The 36 cases were diagnosed between July 21 and July 27, the release states. 

“MassDPH is working with local health officials, the patients, and healthcare providers to identify individuals who may have been in contact with the patients while they were infectious,” it states. “Individuals with monkeypox are advised to isolate and avoid contact with others until they are no longer infectious.”

According to MassDPH, monkeypox is a rare disease that can make you sick, including a rash, which may look like pimples or blisters, often with an earlier flu-like illness. Monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact. Anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk, but early data suggest that gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men make up a high number of cases.

Unfortunately, supplies of vaccines are low though Burlington Health Director said at last week’s Board of Health meeting that individuals who are in at-risk groups can often receive one. They are also given to people who have contracted the disease or have been in close contact with an infected person to try to limit the severity of their symptoms. 

Board of Health Chair Dr. Ed Weiner told BCAT in a phone interview that there have been no reported cases in town. 

“Monkeypox has not been found in Burlington,” he said. 

Lumenello said the department is ready to begin contract tracing in the event of a positive diagnosis. She said one person in town had been identified as being in the proximity of an infected individual but that it was merely being in the same airplane with them and not in physical proximity. 

“​​To me that was not really a close contact but we did follow up with the person,” she said. “It’s not like COVID, it’s not transmissible through the air – you have to be in really close contact.”

According to MassDPH, monkeypox can spread through:

  • Direct skin-to-skin contact with rash lesions. Sexual/intimate contact, including kissing while a person is infected.
  • Living in a house and sharing a bed with someone. Sharing towels or unwashed clothing.
  • Respiratory secretions through face-to-face interactions (the type that mainly happen when living with someone or caring for someone who has monkeypox)

MassDPH says monkeypox does not spread through:

  • Casual conversations. Walking by someone with monkeypox in a grocery store, for instance. Touching items like doorknobs.

Current data from CDC indicate that there have been 4,639 cases of monkeypox virus this year in US residents as of July 27.